This week we would like to spotlight the Arkansas State University – Beebe Wellness Program, a recently developed wellness program struggling through the difficulties associated with building a successful program with limited resources.
The Program Basics
The Arkansas State University – Beebe Wellness Program (ASUB Wellness) is entering its second year of existence. Upon initiation of the program, they received a copy of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Toolkit. Since then, they have followed many of the guidelines in their programs and especially in wellness coaching sessions with individual employees. They have established an incentive program entitled “Step by Step” focusing on walking and “Walking Wednesdays” to promote physical activity. Be Active Your Way materials are freely distributed to the employees who show interest in physical activity.
According to Joseph Scott, “Our program success has exclusively been measured by employee participation.” In their inaugural year, ASUB Wellness ongoing events and programs were deemed successful if they could increase participation from start to finish. Evaluation sheets were sent out post participation asking for input on how the employees were affected and what they would change. Most responses were positive. Scott says, “They have already been asking when the incentive program will be back.”
The wellness program is financed by the college with a small, $5,000 budget for programming exclusively for college employees. This poses all kinds of challenges when trying to run a wellness program for an entire semester. Joseph Scott mentioned that they have overcome some of the financial burden by:
Asking local vendors to donate prizes and incentives
Holding events/programs that do not take a major toll on the budget
Getting brochures and handouts from major organizations like ADA or AHA as well as government agencies
Partnering with their health insurance provider to procure speakers, handouts, and information
The program is run by a part-time wellness coordinator which limits the time available to set up events and run the program. Another challenge to consider is that, as a state institution, ASUB Wellness encounters many restrictions on implementing incentive programs. It restricts buying the employees basic instruments like pedometers and wellness materials. The last challenge faced is getting the campus interested in wellness. No previous programs were in place to consistently focus on wellness at the college until the ASUB Wellness Program. The wellness coordinator has routinely been asked what the program is and does.
Implementing a Similar Program in Your Community
ASUB Wellness has many tips to offer minimally funded smaller wellness programs. They have discovered that when minimally funded and understaffed you have to:
- Reach out for help from larger groups and organizations. This might include getting wellness materials for discounted rates or even free.
Ask local organizations to participate in events. This helps use manpower from the community.
Reach out to individuals specifically in different areas to get more departments involved in activities.
Find ways to incorporate giving incentives for physical activity. This has been very successful and popular among ASUB employees.
Do you have suggestions for this budding wellness program? How could they strengthen their program?