Jefferson County Public Schools (Jeffco), Colorado's largest school district, was in need of an Employee Wellness Program. Wellness Connections, Jeffco's employee wellness program, launched in 2008 with AdvantageHealth Corporation serving as the appointed wellness vendor. In 2010, Dana Wisniewski was hired as a full-time employee wellness program manager for Wellness Connections through AdvantageHealth Corp. With eight years of wellness experience, she designs, implements, and evaluates the wellness program for 12,000 employees located at 150 plus sites. She also brings an additional six years of professional marketing experience to this health promotion role.
Flourish with Fitness - example exercise for Food Service
1a. BS Community Health (UW La Crosse); MS Marketing Mgmt (UW Milwaukee); 15 course hrs completed in MPH program (UW La Crosse)
1b. Personal Trainer (ACE); Wellness Coach Training (Well Coaches); CPR/AED (Red Cross); Yoga Teacher (CorePower Yoga)
1c. Faculty Member of WELCOA
1d. I chose my college major back in the late 90’s and I still recall my parents asking me, “what is Community Health?” Despite Health Education being a relatively new field, I knew that worksite wellness was the career path for me.
1e. My degree in Community Health was my launch pad into worksite wellness & my internships at Motorola, Children’s Hospital and a Graduate Assistant position.
2. a. After reviewing our HRA results, I was able to identify that lack of exercise and high stress were two primary risk factors. Our most successful and innovative program addressed fitting in physical activity into the workday, making it the easy choice, without adding in one more “thing” to our employees’ hectic lives.
2b. I used my background in personal training and marketing to create 5 customized fitness videos (and a printable PDF version of each) of strength training programs that can be completed with minimal space in the workplace. We named it “Flourish with Fitness”. We also gave out 2,000 resistance bands to the first 2,000 employees to complete their online HRA’s that can be used with the videos. The fitness programs were designed for our primary district employee types: administrative, custodians, food service, bus drivers, & educators. The programs are 2 – 10 minutes in length and can be done multiple times in a day and incorporate strength training, cardio & stretching. I conducted environmental tours and talked to risk management to see what types of injuries we could help reduce through these videos. We filmed the videos onsite (one was even filmed on a bus and the others were filmed at Jeffco school). I talked with each employee type to see what a typical day looks like for them. Since our bus driver population is a little challenging to reach (since they don’t use a lot of technology), we conducted 4 onsite fitness training days at our 4 terminals where we taught the exercises and gave out resistance bands to participants. We also implemented an 8-week fitness challenge at terminals.
2c. i. We received many personal success stories that were captured in our annual “Well Award” that highlights employee successes as well as our employee wellness blog that we publish weekly. Improvements included increased energy, flexibility, strength, weight loss, improved relationships and connections to others, improved sleep, improved outlook, better ability to handle stress, and specific changes in biometrics that employees reported including: BMI reduction and weigh reduction.
ii. Employees started teaching their spouses and children the fitness programs and doing it at home. Teachers started doing the videos with students each morning. We captured “success stories” and shared them on our wellness blog throughout the entire district. Busy upper management has also taken advantage of our 2 minute fitness videos: “sit for 60, move for 2”. We also integrated walking maps, WELCOA’s walking books & a “Walking Club Tool-kits” into this program.
iii. We sent customized letters to all employees in management positions and to Principals throughout the district in early Fall, asking them to “Band with Wellness Connections”. We also gave them a resistance band in this package. The letter helped to explain the “Flourish with Fitness” videos, the importance of adding more movement to the workday, and asked them to support the program and help us promote it to their staff. We gained support of upper management and even the new Superintendent who wrote an introduction to our letter for the managers / Principals. In a district that values staying late to work as well as working though lunch, it’s been quite a change to empower employees & change the culture, that being said, we are! More and more employees are walking on their lunch breaks and doing the fitness program on their workday, or leaving right at 5:00pm for an onsite group fitness class.
• Video link: Flourish with Fitness (for Bus Drivers): https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0fRPTY3rdq9X2t0eFVoLW5wSVU/edit
News coverage from Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/golden/ci_26323460/jeffco-public-schools-health-plan-tailors-fitness-specific
2d. Capturing CEO Support – Sent letters/packages to all upper management & principals throughout district. Asked new Superintendent to support the program and included his introduction on wellness in our letter/package.
3. a. With two toddlers at home & working full time, I could simply use the excuse that I’m too busy, but I understand that healthy living isn’t something you “squeeze” into your day, it’s a way of life. It’s taking small step after small step. For me, that involves practicing mindfulness, cooking mostly an organic plant-based diet, enjoying outdoors, writing, volunteering, attending church, & spending time with others.
3b. Prior to being a wellness program manager, I started a small business that offered in-home fitness & nutrition. I also started a volunteer initiative, “Project Every Woman”, where I volunteered and taught yoga to over 500 underserved women by partnering with various non-profits in CO in one year. I knew from running a small business, that I had the leadership necessary for my current position. Also, having a strong background in copywriting, graphic design & marketing strategy allowed our program to create a buzz.
3c. 1) Learn everything you can about best practices by participating in WELCOA’s trainings 2) Watch TED Talks 3) Think outside the box 4) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes 5) Everything is “figure outable”
4. a. To generate better results, I did the following:
• Identified, trained and communicated with over 100 volunteer wellness coordinators
• Learned and mastered two wellness software programs within 4 years: BSDI Motivation, BSDI Alliance.
• Created customized wellness plans for 40 Jeffco sites (as part of the “site-based program”) each year based on needs & interest survey, maintained individual budgets for each site, coordinated and promoted 16 weeks of onsite wellness activities for each site annually.
• Managed 1,590 total wellness & fitness classes implemented over 4 years (that’s 208, 4 or 8-week sessions) including yoga, boot camps, Zumba, Pilates, Small Group Personal Training, Stress Management for Educators, Couch to 5K, and more.
• Managed up to 3 district-wide challenges each year that ran 4 – 10 weeks each and involved 2,000 plus employees per challenge.
• Designed, implemented & produced 5 fitness videos (2-10 minutes in length) for specific employee roles: educators, administrative, bus drivers, food service and custodians in 2014.
• Received local press through Denver Post for these unique fitness videos summer of 2014.
• Wrote, designed, implemented & produced 3 stress management videos on mindfulness, belly breathing and general stress reduction in 2014.
• Designed wellness program around the new theory of Wellbeing, (PERMA Model) by Dr. Martin Seligman.
• Started a blog that highlights employee / worksite success stories
• Created a “well award” that other employees can nominate co-workers for. This award recognized employees in 7 different areas of wellness excellence. We give out awards and prizes to winners and certificates to all who were nominated. Now in it’s 3rd year.
• i. Health status improvements from our 200 (4 or 8 week) onsite group fitness classes-
• 4 out of every 5 participants noticed improvements in their physical fitness (increased muscle, flexibility, fat loss)
• 1 out of every 5 participants measured specific changes in their biometrics (cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI)
• ii. Behavior change - 4 out of every 5 participants noticed improvements in their mental/ emotional well-being (less stressed, more positive, better outlook)
• iii. Culture change – Employees now receive “permission” and encouragement to walk on their lunch breaks, to get up and move every hour, and to participate in onsite group fitness classes after school. Group fitness classes are the new healthy “happy hour” were co-workers get together and socialize after school.
5 a. The biggest opportunity for Health Promotion is bringing a wellness coaching and positive psychology approach into this field. Helping individuals take small steps in any wellness direction they choose as well as helping them understand their motivators, obstacles and vision. Helping them celebrate the successes they have had and build upon their strengths.
5b. Continuing to focus on the new theory of Wellbeing, positive psychology, and “wellness coaching” approach in our design and delivery. Helping people understand what gives them meaning, joy, sense of accomplishment, engagement and purpose. Continuing to integrate ancient practices that are now supported with modern day research including mediation and mindfulness. Utilizing technology when appropriate: apps, videos, e-classes, but also getting back to the basics of social connection, simplicity and slowing down. Utilizing creativity and strategic marketing efforts to grow the “art” of health promotion as well as the “science” side.