Wellness Champions spread the message of healthy living throughout Emory

By Leslie King | Emory Report | April 25, 2016

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Through Healthy Emory's Move More Challenge, Emory employees walked more than one million miles. Wellness Champions are volunteers who share information about Healthy Emory's programs and encourage healthier habits in their work areas.

At a recent luncheon to thank Emory’s Wellness Champions, a timeline showed just how far the program has come in the three years since its inception.

Begun in January 2013 with 14 Emory employees, the program today has 108 Wellness Champions throughout the units of Emory University and Emory Healthcare.

The program is part of Healthy Emory, an initiative established in 2013 to develop an inclusive approach to health promotion, well-being, recreation, fitness and healthy living across Emory. The Champions’ main responsibilities are sharing information about Emory’s health & wellness programs and encouraging healthier habits within their work areas.

These volunteers are recruited by the health and wellness team, which oversees the program under the direction of Melissa Morgan, Emory’s manager of wellness programs.

During the luncheon, Morgan ticked off some of the differences the Wellness Champions had made in Emory’s efforts to encourage healthier living by employees, including contributing to the growth and expansion of the Healthy New YOU Expo and the Know Your Numbers onsite biometric screenings; increasing participation in the Move More Challenge and the Colorful Choices Nutrition Challenge; and increasing participation in National Walking Day.

“In 2012, there were 132 walkers signed up on National Walking Day,” Morgan says. “In 2016, we had over 40 organized walks and over 580 walkers.”

The Move More Challenge, held last fall, “did a lot for the visibility of Healthy Emory,” Morgan says. More than 8,000 people registered to participate in the eight-week physical activity program, which offered Fitbit wearable devices at a reduced price to encourage employees to "move more." The challenge will be offered again in 2016.

“Collectively, we covered over 1 million miles and averaged 9,000 steps a day,” she says.

The Fitbit company was so impressed by Emory's program that they are completing a promotional video featuring a number of Emory employees including Morgan. The video, shown in its initial format at the luncheon, should be completed and finalized by early summer, Morgan told the group.

Making a difference across Emory

Wellness Champions are making a difference across Emory, from office buildings to hospitals.

For example, Jeanne Landry, vice-president of human resources at Emory Saint Joseph’s, praised the work of Wellness Champions Ansley Thompson and Lianne Sagorski. Thompson is manager of community relations and Sagorski is in human resources at Saint Joseph’s.

“These two have really embraced this initiative. From early on they have organized the wellness committee for Emory Saint Joseph’s to include the entire campus,” Landry says.

“They have organized walking Wednesdays, aided with the Healthy New YOU Expo for the past two years, and have been instrumental to me in finalizing a ESJ Campus outside walking path, by defining the course and helping in selection of the graphics and monument signs,” she notes.

Volunteers are asked to commit to serving as a Wellness Champion for two years. They also submit a monthly report detailing wellness initiatives in their department or division; attend two or three in-person meetings per year; and participate in a monthly conference call.

To volunteer to become a Wellness Champion, contact Morgan.  

Why be a Wellness Champion?

We asked a diverse group of Wellness Champions about their reasons for volunteering. Here are a few of their answers:

• "I became a Wellness Champion to help others learn about the great programs that Healthy Emory has to offer. Wellness is important to everyone, and I want to be a part of helping others to be well in all areas of their lives."

Kendra Price
Government Affairs Manager
Office of Government Affairs


• "I really enjoy spreading the wellness word to my fellow co-workers. Being the Wellness Champion at Emory Johns Creek Hospital has allowed me to encourage and educate on nutrition and fitness."

Julie Parish
Clinical Nutrition Manager
Emory Johns Creek Hospital           


• "I’m brand-new to the role, so I’m definitely still learning. I became a Wellness Champion because I have really seen the benefits of increased activity in my own life, and I wanted to share that with others. Also, it’s a great chance to talk with co-workers outside my area. I’ve really enjoyed the community aspects of the wellness programs at Emory."

Ben Chapman
Assistant Dean for Information Technology
Emory University School of Law


• "Being a Wellness Champion has been such a wonderful experience. I get to see people take on challenges to better themselves. The excitement people feel and sense of accomplishment shines through."

Melanie Hof
Clinical Assistant to Kenneth Mautner, MD


• "Being a Wellness Champion is a way for me to give back to Emory in a meaningful way. As a public health professional working with Oxford students, I experience gratitude daily for the opportunity to positively impact student well-being. Now, as a Wellness Champion, I can experience the same joy by empowering my colleagues to treat health as a priority."

Amanda Yu
Director of the Center for Healthful Living
Oxford College


• "Being a Wellness Champion is my small way of taking care of my organization. It’s my opportunity to be “Mom” to a lot our staff. It’s also a great opportunity for me to plan events and initiatives for my very large diverse group."

Shervon Lewis
Program Coordinator
Campus Services Human Resources


• "I like being a Wellness Champion because I enjoy encouraging others to be well and healthy. We all know that we do our best in life when we are feeling our best. If we commit to helping each other be well, we continue to make Emory a great place to come to work every day."

Stephanie Parisi
Instructional Designer
Teaching and Learning Technologies, LITS

 
• "I get so excited when I see my coworkers actually choosing healthier snacks and meals, and participating in our 'Get Up And Move' activities."

Andrea Dyer-Archa
Infusion Managed Care Reimbursement Specialist
Patient Financial Services at Peachtree Center


• "Healthy living has always been a personal struggle for me. I have never been a healthy eater, despite the fact that I managed to keep my weight down. I became a Wellness Champion to hold myself more accountable and to encourage others to do the same."

Terry Martin
Executive Senior Administrative Assistant
Emory Healthcare Nursing