Getting “REAL” with HEAL…
Getting “REAL” with HEAL
Arvada and Commerce City Have More Than a Few Things In Common
What do the City of Arvada (680 benefit-eligible employees) and Commerce City (320 benefit-eligible employees) have in common? Perhaps more than you think. I recently interviewed these cities’ main wellness liaisons, asked some hard questions, and discovered resounding similarities in their efforts to advance healthy eating and active living (HEAL) efforts – especially in the areas of success, struggles, and support.
Rose Chavez is the Healthy Places Coordinator for Arvada, a position that is grant-funded through 2016. She is housed in the City Manager’s office and works closely with Human Resources and their wellness committee. She is the organizer of the City’s newly formed Meetup group called Arvada Walkabouts, a part of the Arvada In Motion initiative to engage all Arvadans in walking and biking in the local trails and neighborhood paths. April kicks off a Month of Walking for the City, where they’ll be exploring Olde Town Arvada, hiking on their 120 miles of trails, connecting with nature through a birding walk, checking out the architecture, and sometimes just meeting for coffee and a stroll. So far, they have 271 walkers!
Glen Batista is the Wellness Program Co-Chair for Commerce City, an internally funded position split between worksite wellness and the recreation center. Thus, similar to Rose, he serves both employees and the public. Glen works closely with Human Resources and their wellness team to host and promote lunch and learns, offer bi-monthly challenges, and get their HEAL initiatives underway, the most successful being a newly formed HEAL committee – comprised of many key players who get together regularly to strategize healthy eating and active living in the community.
While both Rose and Glen are not short on things to coordinate, initiate, or facilitate, both have identified and committed time and effort into having healthy meetings and events. They are going about this endeavor differently and face unique obstacles, but both are making progress.
Arvada now has a 4-page preferred provider list of food vendors that offer healthy food options. This list makes it easier for front-end staff to provide healthy foods at their meetings and events. They’ve also recently adapted healthy meeting guidelines from the City of Minneapolis and are working to get them formally approved by leadership.
Similarly, Commerce City is taking the necessary steps to create a healthy workplace environment for their organization. They plan to examine policy change that promotes healthy food options and encourages movement at work.
Though HEAL initiatives are far from easy, Rose and Glen agreed they are well worth the effort. They see them as tools to help manage workplace stress, improve health, and boost the culture. They recommend taking one step at a time, seeking committee input, getting leadership support, and focusing on the low-hanging fruit first for some quick wins. Glen used these words to describe HEAL overall, “HEAL – in the workplace and in the community – is always a work in progress. Yet there IS always progress… meaningful progress.”
This meaningful progress seems to be what keeps them – and all of us in the campaign – committed to improving healthy eating and active living where we live and work. I guess we all have something in common…