College promotes health through employee wellness program
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Updated: Sunday, February 27, 2011 19:02
The New York Times recently published an article (based on a survey by Towers Watson) which revealed a significant decrease in workers' participation in employee wellness programs over the last two years. A senior health consultant at Towers Watson stated, "This economic recession has had a very significant impact on the public and employees." Despite the statistical findings on decreasing health efforts, after more then 20 years membership in the Wellesley College Employee Wellness Program is on the rise. In 2010, 283 employees—89 faculty, 186 staff and eight union workers—participated in the Employment Wellness Program. In the early stages of the Program, about 90 percent of participants were staff members whereas last year 30 percent were faculty. These statistics reveal the increasing diversity and interest in the program.
Connie Bauman, the Associate Professor of the Practice of Sports Medicine, created the program in 1989 and is now the director of the Wellness Committee. Bauman also won the 2010 Pinanski Prize for excellence in teaching at Wellesley College and designed a sports medicine course with an emphasis on orthopedics for students interested in health professions.
"I created the program a long time ago because I felt that employees needed a worksite wellness program to balance their day, have fun meeting other colleagues in an informal setting, and enhance their personal health and well-being," Bauman said. The Employee Wellness Program's growth and popularity is thriving with faculty and staff and has proved to have a strong foundation after its first two decades. Wellesley College subsidizes the wellness program classes by 50 percent. Bauman explained that when she first initiated the Program, one class cost was three dollars for employees and the College paid the other three-dollar half. Today, total class cost is up to 14 dollars but due to that 50 percent subsidy, employees pay seven dollars.
The program's diverse and low-cost classes appeal to an array of interests and lifestyles and are taught by experienced, qualified instructors. The classes offered throughout the year are yoga, Zumba, Pilates, integrated fitness classes, aqua aerobics and strength training. The goals of the Wellness Program are to develop positive lifestyle habits, learn principles of fitness, acquire skills of lifetime activities that lead to continued participation and provide opportunities for social interaction with colleagues. Patty McGuill, aqua aerobics and Pilates instructor, remarked on the Wellness Program's popularity among faculty and staff she has witnessed in her classes and the substantial involvement from professors in the sciences.
A study conducted by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses found that wellness programs in the workplace aid faculty and staff not only physically but also mentally by providing a healthier overall environment and improving co-worker relationships.