|Vol. 17, No. 20||Feb. 19, 1998|
Staff members of the new University Wellness Center office are (from left) Phyllis Whaler, Michael Peterson, Lisa Dvorak and Marianne Carter.Have programs-will travel!" is the motto of the UD Employee Wellness Center.
Housed in its new quarters in Room 112, Carpenter Sports Building, adjacent to the lobby, the Wellness Program staff is at the ready to serve University employees in groups at their work sites on all campuses or through individual consultations.
Previously, the staff was located in different offices across campus. When the College of Health and Nursing Sciences was formed, it was decided to unify the program in one location, making the center more accessible and convenient for UD employees, according to director Michael Peterson, health and exercise sciences.
Lisa Dvorak has joined the center as a part-time secretary. She will handle scheduling and answer questions to help the program run smoothly and efficiently.
"We take a positive, not a negative and preachy approach to wellness," Peterson said. "Wellness isn't a series of 'don'ts'; it's based on 'dos' that enable people to feel better, function better and enjoy life more."
A total of $50 Wellness Dollars is credited to each full-time University employee every year, and these are prorated for part-time employees. These dollars can be applied to any number of available programs so there is no or little cost for participants. Spouses also can participate by paying cash, but the cost is nominal for the services provided, Peterson pointed out.
"With Wellness Dollars, it's use them or lose them, and an increasing number of employees are becoming interested in an upbeat lifestyle and are taking advantage of these opportunities. The feedback we get from participants is that our programs can and do make a difference in their general, overall well-being. Our goal is to encourage others to join in. It's beneficial, informative and fun," he said.
Phyllis Whaler, health promotion specialist, and Marianne Carter, assistant director and registered dietitian, are on the front lines of the Wellness Program and offer group and individualized programs. In addition, three student nurse practitioners and a graduate student in exercise physiology work in the program.
The UD program is comprehensive and encompasses all aspects of wellness, from exercise to nutrition to stress management. Fitness and wellness assessments, fitness programs, weight management programs, personal and health maintenance programs and nutrition programs, plus programs for those who are trying to kick smoking all are available. Wellness dollars also can be applied to locker rental and locker/cotton service and for borrowing videos on health-related issues.
With a degree in nursing and a master's degree in exercise physiology, both from UD, Whaler does assessments that involve such things as blood pressure, resting heart rate, body composition and cholesterol screening. She also develops exercise programs that can be done at home or at the Employee Fitness Center, and she gives training and exercise sessions.
"We'll go to you, with our mats, equipment and materials, wherever a group of eight or more expresses interest. Many departments even have wellness representatives to coordinate programs with us. We also work closely with the Employee Fitness Center, which is well used every day from 6 a.m. on," Whaler said.
Carter handles the nutritional aspects of the wellness program. "The message we give is moderation," Carter pointed out. "You can still have your doughnut or Twinkies. Just don't overdo it and make sure your daily diet includes the basic food groups, including several helpings of fruits and vegetables. In a survey, Delaware was the second lowest state in the country in eating fruit. With all the available fruits grown locally and the many that are imported, it's hard to believe," she said.
Carter completed a successful Surviving the Holidaze, a Weigh to Go program, with 76 employees enrolled. The participants followed suggestions on keeping weight off during the holidays, weighing in before and after, and all were successful in maintaining their pre-holiday weight, she said.
The program also offers an ongoing Employee Wellness Triathlon/Pentathlon, encouraging employees to sign up for three or five activities in different categories and win prizes.
Coming up is the self-monitored Spring Blue Hen Walking Program, offering employees incentives and prizes as well as a good way to tone up and enjoy the outdoors with companions as winter fades away and spring takes over.
The Wellness Program also offers students in nurtrition and dietetics, fitness and nursing an opportunity to work with employees and get practical experience in their field. This year 14 students participated.
Future plans include an outreach program, where the staff will be available for programs with the community at large.
"We are flexible, available and user-friendly," Peterson said. "Give wellness a try."
For further informaton on Employee Wellness Center programs, call 831-8388.
-Sue Swyers Moncure
Photo by Robert Cohen