In May, 2013, AU's AHealthyU program will turn 5 years old. To celebrate this milestone (since we probably shouldn't eat a huge slice of birthday cake), Staff Council invited AHealthyU Health Promotion Coordinator, Matthew Barresi, and Senior Director of Employee Benefits for HR, Ann Joiner, to recap the last five years, and share their hopes and ideas for the future of AHealthyU.
Q: Can you tell us about the history and development of the AHealthyU Program?
Ann: The program was recommended by an outside consultant in 2006 as a way to help improve our faculty and staff's overall health status. A subcommittee was formed, focus groups were held to gauge interest in a wellness program, and research was done on programs at peer institutions. The AhealthyU program kicked off in May 2008.
Q: In what ways has the program changed or evolved since it's creation?
Ann: Initially the program was focused on health education, but as it evolved over time, we implemented a wider array of activities, including the health screenings and fitness classes.
Q: What are some examples of typical AHealthyU programs?
Matt: We provide programming related to all of the generally recognized areas of wellness - social, environmental, physical, spiritual, occupational, emotional, financial, and intellectual. A majority of our programming focuses on physical health because improvements in physical health often bring about positive changes in other areas of wellness too. Our programs include brown bag lunches and healthy cooking demonstrations, an annual pedometer challenge, Weight Watchers on campus, the farmer's market, and fitness classes.Our latest program, Fit and Lean in 2013, is a new program that is a combined fitness and weight loss challenge - it follows last fall's very successful Great American Weight Loss Challenge.
Q: About how much time goes into planning, managing, and evaluating each AHealthyU program?
Matt: This is difficult to measure. We are constantly going through the cycle of creating, running and evaluating programs. We run one large program per semester and in the summer, but many other smaller programs are running throughout the year. One of the fun things about this program is that we are constantly thinking of new ways to help faculty and staff make healthy behavior changes. There is no typical day-to-day schedule.
Q: What is your favorite AHealthyU program?
Matt: The Couch to 5k Training Program! I enjoy meeting with participants regularly and watching their improvement from week to week. The program allows me to meet new people and share in the great accomplishment they experience on completing a 5k after 8 or 9 weeks of training. It was my passion for running that led me to a career in Health Promotion, and the Couch to 5k program let's me share my love of running with new people.
Q: What is your vision for the future of the AHealthyU program?
Ann: Our vision is to continue to match the program offerings to the needs of our community. We're hoping the opening of North Hall in the fall will give us access to a facility (either in JFC or North Hall) for regularly scheduled faculty and staff fitness classes. We want to inspire a culture of health and well-being at the university.
Be sure to check out AHealthyU's full schedule of upcoming events - we'll see you there!
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