In March 2016, the Y in Central Maryland created a Director of Healthy Living and Associate Well-being position. With over 3,000 associates spread across Baltimore City and 5 counties, the Y has extensive involvement in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility within the communities served. Having a person dedicated to associate well-being is a priority. Diana Beeson served as the HR & Wellness Manager in 2014 and created the initial wellness program and launched the Wellness Champion Council. She was promoted into operations to run a Y facility in 2015. With over ten years of experience in the field and now with operational experience, it was clear Diana was a fit and returned to the Association Office in March 2016.
Diana possesses a Master of Science with a concentration in Community Health Education. She is Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Health and Wellness Coach through Wellcoaches. She has achieved WELCOA faculty status.
In 1998 after losing her sister in a car accident, Diana embarked on what she would later realize was her own personal well-being journey. She learned there was more to being well than physical activity and nutrition. Once she focused on her own multiple dimensions of well-being, this fueled her passion to help others. The Wellness Coach certification broadened her perspective and increased her ability to listen with intent. She takes pride in helping individuals along in their journeys and has the ability to meet people where they are.
Y in Central Maryland Associates are asked to impact communities and deliver programming to help every individual reach their fullest potential. They are asked to create a true experience for those we serve. In her new role, Diana is responsible for helping our associates reach their fullest potential and plans to do so via delivering an associate well-being experience to each of them. How can you deliver your best if you are not at your best?
In 2015, a biometric screening was a required component of the associate well-being experience for associates on medical benefits to receive the financial incentive. Based on the results, 21% of associates were in the pre-diabetic/diabetic range. Diana became a certified Lifestyle Coach to deliver the YUSA Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) curriculum. A pilot program began with 2 groups of Y associates and Diana is co-leading one of the groups. While participation is not currently tied to incentives, the pilot is being offered at no cost to our associates. The two goals of the year long program are for participants to lose 5-7% of their body weight and to increase their physical activity to 150 minutes per week. There are a combined 19 associates enrolled in the pilots. As of session 16, the 19 associates had lost a collective 176 pounds, which equals an average 3.8% loss per participant. A Program Coordinator position was filled in September 2016 and the goal is for this program to expand both internally and externally.
Many Y associates are part-time or full-time, but not on medical benefits. Their well-being is equally as important as those that are. One goal this year was to provide activities for all associates to participate in. At the conclusion of 2015, a survey went out to associates and many of the activities selected for this year came about as a result of feedback from that survey. The Y participated in National Walking Day with the American Heart Association in April 2016. Twenty-two Y sites registered to participate and collectively Y associates walked a total of 292,675 steps in one day. A staff triathlon was held in August and 13 teams of 3 registered. An associate hike was held in early November, with a retired Y associate leading the hike. At the beginning of October, a 4th Quarter Lunch and Learn Series: Fueling Your Fullest Potential was launched.
Each of WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks have played an integral role in our Associate Well-being Experience. Diana was invited to present on the topic of Well-being at an all exempt-staff meeting held in June. This made it clear that our CEO not only supports well-being but promotes it as part of our organizational culture. Moving into 2017, Diana plans to re-energize the Wellness Champion Council. This area will need to be strengthened for the associate well-being experience to continue to gain momentum and move forward successfully.
Prior to becoming a full time associate with the Y, Diana taught group exercise. Her passion for group exercise remains and Diana became certified through National Exercise Trainers Associate to continue to teach. She continues to teach an early morning class at one of the nearby Y facilities and actively encourages her colleagues to join her. She will begin offering a mid-day class twice a week to target associates by the end of the year.
Maintaining WELCOA faculty status has continued to be a resource for Diana and she maintains committed to staying up to date with trends in the wellness field. Diana is currently working on her Team Leader Certification through the YUSA . With one class remaining until she has met the requirements, she hopes to do so by the end of the first quarter in 2017. Continuously evaluating her well-being is both a professional and personal priority. She firmly believes that only when you know where you are can you truly help others identify where they are and help them get to where they want to go.
To become a leader in the field, networking is critical. While specific missions vary, as health professionals our foundational goals are so similar that collaborating will only make us stronger in the field.
Piloting the YUSA Diabetes Prevention Program to our associates first serves two purposes. This program is directly related to the health status of our associates. In addition, the pilots have already resulted in lessons learned that will lead to successful expansion and a more smooth implementation for future groups.
Inviting part-time associates and those that are not on medical benefits to be part of the Wellness Champion team will serve to provide different insight in how to engage those that are not eligible for the incentive in the form of premium deductions. While there is currently minimal part-time associate representation, the goal is to increase this number moving into 2017. This will also lead to an organizational culture change and an example of how well-being is weaved into everything the organization does and at every level.
To provide meaningful programming/interventions, continuously seeking feedback and strategically implementing feedback is necessary. I firmly believe behavioral assessments, mindfulness and meditation will play a pivotal role as the health promotion field evolves. Through healthier, more connected associates, organizations that address well-being will not only see health care costs decrease but will become employers of choice.
As the healthcare landscape changes, Health Promotion Professionals will be positioned to take risks, think outside the box and reap tremendous rewards through helping others. Wellness is more than a box to be checked and will become the pathway to truly address an individual’s well-being needs.
I am attending Mindful Performance training in December and plan to integrate mindfulness practices into 2017 for our associates. We have to do more than provide people with tools, we have to show them how those tools work and simplify how they can put them into practice.