New Castle – Building a Culture of Wellness

Healthy workplace policies and strategies are an essential tool to building interest in healthy living. New Castle is one municipality striving to build a culture of wellness across the town, beginning with healthy workplace initiatives.  While healthy workplace policies don’t have the immediate effect of passing municipal ordinances, these programs can still create broader interest in wellness.  As workplace policies are implemented, the culture begins to change, making the healthy choice the common and expected choice.  Further, many employees will take the interest in wellness to their own homes and families.

In the fall of 2017, the town of New Castle’s public works director, John Wenzel, organized an early morning staff exercise group that was well received by participants. Councilor Bruce Leland took notice and realized the time was right to develop a formal wellness plan. A further motivator was the inclusion of workplace wellness in their HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign Resolution.

Working from some initial research on wellness programs conducted by a former employee, Councilor Leland launched the process to create a wellness plan. The town administrator and council formed a Staff Wellness Committee comprised of volunteers to create a wellness plan. The committee was made up of Town Clerk Melody Harrison, Administrative Assistant and Events Coordinator Debbie Nichols, Parks Director Jared Stueber and Recreation Director Hannah Bihr. The committee created a wellness program that includes educational classes, events, and a reimbursement program.

The committee examined several models for incentivizing wellness activities and decided on a reimbursement program. The reimbursement program was launched at the beginning of June, allocating up to $200 per employee per year for a wide variety of wellness expenses including fitness center membership fees, group exercise classes, educational classes for stress management and healthy cooking, sporting equipment, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.  During the planning process, the committee consulted with Marathon, which operates Colorado Employer Benefit Trust (CEBT) clinics, and will include CEBT’s wellness opportunities in their program.

Moving forward, the committee will be responsible for scheduling presentations and events, evaluating the program, and advising the town administrator and council on the future direction of the wellness program.

The HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign is offering an opportunity for municipalities to receive assistance from our worksite wellness consultants to initiate or refine a worksite wellness program or policy. Applications to receive technical assistance are due on July 3, 2018. We also encourage municipal staff and elected officials to connect with your local health department (especially those in Garfield, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Adams County), your Health Links advisor, and your insurance company (such as Kaiser Permanente) for assistance with worksite wellness programs.

If you have created or changed a worksite wellness policy, please let us know. LiveWell will be updating the HEAL Library during summer 2018 and we would love to include your policies!