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Why “Mandatory” Wellness Programs are Problematic Under the Law

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Monday, November 12, 2018

Why “Mandatory” Wellness Programs are Problematic Under the Law

By Barbara J. Zabawa, JD, MPH
Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC

The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts recently polled its members for questions about employee wellness program compliance.  Most of the respondents had questions that involved offering incentives in “mandatory” wellness programs and what types of programs caused problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  These two lines of inquiry are actually related, and led me to conclude that there is still a lot of confusion out there about when and how to comply with the ADA.  This blog post aims to clear up that confusion.

When does the ADA Apply to Worksite Wellness Programs?
The ADA applies to wellness programs that ask employees for their health information, usually through a health risk assessment/questionnaire or through a biometric screen.  The ADA does not apply to wellness program activities that do not involve health information collection, such as walking challenges, nutrition programs, or health education classes.  The reason why the ADA is limited to programs involving employee health information collection has to do with the ADA’s general prohibition against asking employees “disability-related inquiries” or asking them to take a medical exam.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces compliance with the ADA, views health risk assessments (HRAs) as a “disability-related inquiry” and a biometric screen as a “medical exam.” 

Our Worksite Wellness Program Includes an HRA and a Biometric Screen.  Are those Allowed under the ADA?
Yes, they are allowed under the ADA, as long as they are part of a “voluntary” employee wellness program.  42 USC § 12112(d)(4)(B). 

What is a “Voluntary” Wellness Program under the ADA?
There is no definition of the word “voluntary,” but the EEOC in rules issued in May 2016 stated that employers could offer incentives for completing an HRA or biometric screen if the incentive value was no more than 30% of the cost of self-only coverage.  So, according to the EEOC, an incentive, whether monetary or in-kind (such as days off or a prize), could still make the HRA or biometric screen voluntary, as long as the value of that incentive did not exceed 30% of total cost of self-only coverage.  However, as of January 1, 2019, the EEOC must delete the 30% incentive limit from the rules because of a decision in the case entitled AARP v. EEOC.  As a result, after January 1, 2019, there will be no guidance as to what amount of incentive, if any, will meet the ADA’s “voluntary” requirement.

Will our Wellness Program be able to Incentivize HRAs or Biometric Screens after January 1, 2019?
It will depend on the incentive amount, whether there are any alternatives to earning the incentive and your employee population.  If your employee population consists of a lot of low-wage workers, a large incentive may give the perception that the HRA or biometric screen is “mandatory,” and not voluntary.  Also, if your employee population consists of a lot of workers who value their health information privacy, asking employees to divulge their health information in exchange for an incentive could make the HRA or biometric screen seem more coercive than voluntary.  So, it’s important to know your employee population.  Also, you may want to consider allowing employees another way to earn the incentive if they are uncomfortable with disclosing their health information through the HRA or biometric screen.  Some alternatives may be attending a class or participating in an exercise challenge.

But our HRAs and Biometric Screening Activities are Mandatory.  How Can We Comply with the ADA?
The fact that you label your HRAs and biometric screens as “mandatory” parts of your wellness program undercuts the voluntary nature that the ADA requires of your health information collection activities.  The ADA requires health information collection activities to be part of a “voluntary” wellness program.  If you state that your HRA or biometric screen is “mandatory,” that does not sound like a voluntary program.  Use of words like “mandatory” or “required” in relation to HRAs or biometric screens should be avoided.

Tags:  EEOC  employee benefits  employee engagement  employee incentives  wellness  wellness programs  workplace wellness  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs 

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Why WellCert? The Journey of a CWPM

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Why WellCert? The Wellness Journey of Leslee McGovern, MS, RD, LDN, CWPM


I came to Worksite Wellness through nutrition. Early in my career as a registered dietitian, I held traditional clinical roles where I cared for patients who were experiencing the results of years of poor health habits. I knew then, I wanted to reach people before they were at this stage. I also wanted to reach a bigger broader audience about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. After going back to school for a master’s in nutrition and communications, I promoted the health benefits of food through foodservice marketing and public relations. In my position at a  foodservice contract management firm truly brought me to worksite wellness. There I developed corporate nutrition and dining programs for large corporations. I helped these organizations think strategically about the food environment at work and how to make it health promoting for their employees. In meeting with company wellness directors and their committees I also saw the bigger picture and I knew I wanted to be involved in the bigger picture. I wanted to help organizations develop strategic plans for employee wellness.

Here in Massachusetts, we know that only a small percentage of organizations have them. I wanted to help change that. My first step was to pursue the Level One Wellcert Program from the Chapman Institute. I learned about the basic skills required to design and implement a comprehensive and effective worksite wellness program. Now I could see the whole picture and take what I learned to help client organizations build their comprehensive plans. Next I signed up for Wellcert Level Two because there is always more to learn!  This level provided additional training on critical skills necessary a full time wellness program manager in larger more complex organizations. This training is vital to my work and I’m eager to take the next level. By participating in the onsite training, you gain knowledge and the opportunity to benefit from Larry Chapman’s 35 years of experience. 

 

Tags:  WellCert Certification  wellness  worksite wellness 

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The Power Of Great Leaders: The Chapman Effect

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why WellCert? A Letter From Philip Swayze, CWPD, HUB International

Since 2010 I have chaired the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Leadership Awards program.  The people I’ve met through this process and my 19 years in the field of prevention and wellness have underscored for me the positive influence and meaningful impact that one person can have on the practice of health and well-being. 

There are so many amazing men and women in our field I could write about but today I want to focus on Dr. Larry Chapman – an individual that I’ve known and respected since 2004 when he was the CEO of Summex.   I first met Larry when his company was selected to offer services through a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) wellness-infused health plan product.  I was a young(er) wellness communications strategist for BCBSRI, and we were creating this really amazing product that allowed participants to opt into one of several different wellness program options based on their risk profile, preferred communications medium and personal behavior change preferences.

Larry provided his years of wisdom and experience in the integration of his online programs into the HMPC product we were building.  Fast forward to 2017 and Larry is now offering his knowledge and expertise through the Chapman Institute’s WellCert® program.  Class participants receive full peer-reviewed articles Larry wrote for the wellness field in The Art of Health Promotion such as his Meta-Evaluation of Worksite Health Promotion Economic Return Studies (TAHP 2012).  Dr. Chapman’s WellCert® program offers four levels of curriculum that he’s carefully designed to provide a foundation of research-backed knowledge and offer a suite of tools to support the development and implementation of a successful worksite wellness program.

Over the past 3 years, I have reconnected with Larry and completed levels 1-3 of his WellCert program.  His field-tested methodologies have provided me with additional tools and strategies that have helped me grow my career and continue my success in the field of health and well-being.  I encourage anyone seeking to improve their knowledge and skills as a worksite wellness consultant to go through one or more of his certification courses. The WWCMA is hosting WellCert level 1 October 9 and 10 and level 2 on October 11 and 12 in Watertown, MA.  Sign up today for a chance to study under Larry and give your career in wellness a boost!

Like Michael Samuelson, Dee Edington and Vic Strecher, Larry Chapman is one of the many influential people from the state of Michigan who has had and continues to have a lasting impact on the field of health and wellbeing.  Thank you, Larry!

 

Philip Swayze, MS, Certified Wellness Program Director

Hub International, New England

Tags:  BCBSRI  HUB International  Larry Chapman  Philip Swayze  The Chapman Institute  WellCert Certification  Wellness  Wellness Certifications  Wellness Programs  Worksite Wellness 

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Millennials in the Workforce Webinar Recap

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, July 26, 2017

As the proportion of Millennials in the workforce surpasses that of the earlier generations, employers must be prepared to explore new ideas for programming, communications, and engagement. Nick Patel, Founder and President of Wellable, Inc., says that Millennials want three things from their employer: to deliver impact, to work for a company with purpose, and to have perks. But Patel also points out that even when Millennials have these needs met they still tend to be unhappy, and he cites four key influences.

First, this generation of workers grew up in the time of “participation medals”, meaning they may have been rewarded merely for participating in a team sport or activity. Some believe that this created a sense of entitlement which Millennials are carrying into the workplace. Next, they grew up with technology and social media. Patel describes this as making Millennials good at putting filters on things - that in the world of social media everything can appear “72 degrees and sunny.”  Third, a world where rides, television, and shopping can be accessed so readily has generated a level of impatience and desire for instant gratification. Finally, the work environment can be a challenge for Millennials who have to adjust to letting go of the “participation medal” mentality.

When thinking about programming for this generation, Patel points out that financial wellness, work/life balance, and mental health are common concerns. Unlike other generations, Millennials are more likely to define “healthy” as a lifestyle of eating well and exercising rather than the mere avoidance of illness.  Communications should be designed to tap into this mindset as well as cater to Millennials’ interest in reliable health content. Finally, taking a shift from some of the more legacy approaches to worksite wellness such as biometric screenings may pay off when engaging this generation of workers. Patel notes that novel wellness benefits (travel credits, 401(Play) Funds, etc) and consumer-grade technologies are more likely to drive engagement.

Athenahealth’s Megan Sireci is no stranger to the desires of the Millennial worker. Sireci, Manager of University Recruiting and Programs, believes that embracing this unique population starts with company culture. As an example of engaging Millennials in the workplace, Athenahealth has adopted the philosophy of “bring your whole self to work,” and this is accomplished by focusing on three components: Integration of life and work, societal impact, and constant growth.

Offering employee resource groups (ERGs) around topics such as diversity and women’s leadership, as well as providing extracurriculars (book club, running club) are just two of the ways that Athenahealth seeks to integrate life and work for their employees. Sireci knows that perks have become somewhat expected by this population, especially at tech companies, and sees extracurriculars and ERGs as a way of broadening the way they define employee benefits.

The second component to the organization’s philosophy is societal impact - seeing that daily work goes “beyond the desk.” Charity work and volunteering opportunities are offered to accomplish this. Finally, Athenahealth seeks to promote constant growth by creating a culture of teachers and learners. This is accomplished through a number of programs including “10x10” where managers and direct reports spend the first 10 minutes of a monthly check-in providing two-way feedback to each other. Sireci emphasizes that employees are given co-ownership to the future of their career which helps them to feel empowered.

Patel and Sireci provide a clear perspective for employers seeking to engage Millennials both in their wellness programming and their organization as a whole. While many employers should be considering these strategies, they should also remember not to lose sight of engaging older generations. Understanding what your employees want in a wellness program is an integral first step no matter their generational makeup of your workforce.

Register Now for the Annual Conference to learn more about strategies that engage and inspire your workforce.

Click here to listen to the full recording (members only - you must be logged in)

Tags:  employee benefits  employee engagement  engaging millennials  millennials  wellness  workplace wellness  worksite wellness  worksite wellness programs 

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Building A Career In Worksite Wellness: Panel Event Recap

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, April 26, 2017

            

An evening full of insight and inspiration, the panel held by the Worksite Wellness Council of MA and the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had a clear theme: networking is everything.  Panelists included Valerie Machinist, MS, RD, LDN, Deborah (“Deb”) Gorhan, MS, MCHES, Philip Swayze, MS, CWPD, and Catherine (“Cathy”) Theodore, RN, BS, CWPC. Each panelist spent some time talking about what they do in their current role and the path they took to get there. Though the panelists all work in different areas of worksite wellness, they shared a similar message about persistence, passion, and getting involved.

“Follow your heart, follow your dreams.”  Catherine (“Cathy”) Theodore, Regional Director of Health Strategies for UnitedHealthcare of New England, shared these words of wisdom with the group. Cathy first entered the health and wellness field as an oncology nurse, knowing from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career helping others. She credits her success to have a passion for wellness, keeping an open mind, and never closing a door on any opportunity. Cathy also told the attendees to believe in themselves, encouraging them to apply for jobs even if they don’t feel they meet the qualifications. She emphasized making a connection with those in charge of hiring to separate yourself from other candidates.

Deb Gorhan, Wellness & Health Promotion Manager for Johnson & Johnson – Americas, says, “Don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do something.” When she first started at J&J, Deb had a vision for the job she ultimately wanted and took it upon herself to write out a description for the role.  Over two years, that exact role finally became her job. She feels that both culture and environment are key to building a successful worksite wellness program. Leaders should represent wellness, and the built environment should be constructed to encourage healthy habits such as walking and taking the stairs. Deb’s career advice is to, “go for it,” and to stay connected with people and groups in the industry to ensure success.  

As the sole Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) on the panel, Valerie Machinist spoke to the role of an RDN in worksite wellness and noted that opportunities for RDNs are growing in the field. Valerie is currently the Product Director for Optum’s On-Site RDN Services and the President of the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, previously working as a health educator and a consultant. Her path to her role at Optum began with a realization that she did not want a career in clinical dietetics, but rather a career where she could help others make the changes to stay out of the hospital in the first place. Valerie said that the importance of volunteering and being connected cannot be understated, and to “never burn bridges.” She also encouraged attendees not to feel “boxed in” by job descriptions, referencing a previous experience in which she crafted a new program assessing environmental factors and breast cancer risk. Finally, Valerie urged current and hopeful wellness professionals to do everything possible to meet people and learn.

A “meandering path” is how Philip Swayze, Director of Health and Performance for HUB International New England, describes his eventual entry into the world of worksite wellness. He credits that path for making him a better consultant and encouraged attendees to parlay their skills and interests into jobs as he did. Like Deb Gorhan, Philip also once created a new role for himself based on both his strengths and the needs of the company. He says, “it’s about being open to suggesting ideas and solving problems,” and encouraged attendees to not be afraid to speak up and raise their hand. Another recommendation was to volunteer to get access to more opportunities. Philip credited his personal and professional connections as being directly responsible for helping him secure at least three jobs in his career.

The panel, though made up of professionals from varied backgrounds, clearly had a consistent theme of networking for success. Each participant credited networking and volunteering as being integral to their success and noted their continued involvement in volunteer roles. Success in the world of worksite wellness, it seems, is about having a passion for the subject, the persistence to pursue your goals, and the personal connections to foster opportunities.

Tags:  wellness  wellness careers  wellness consultant  wellness coordinator  wellness director  wellness program manager  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  worksite wellness programs 

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2016 Partner Blog Posts You Won't Want To Miss

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In preparation for 2017, here are some great blog posts from this past year from our partners and other industry professionals that you won't want to miss!

Advancing Wellness
Three Ways You are Doing Worksite Wellness Wrong, and How to Get It Right

Most wellness programs are designed while looking through the lens of money. Who are the most expensive employees? What can we do to change those employees so they will cost less? These are the wellness programs where very little changes in overall employee health and the money you were hoping to save goes down the drain along with the additional cost of your failing wellness program.
 
Here are three common mistakes companies make in their wellness program design and solutions to turn them around.

Read the full blog post here:
http://www.advwellness.com/blog/three-ways-you-redoing-worksite-wellness-wrong-and-how-to-get-it-right

 

Wellable
Soft Benefits Growing In Importance

The article reviews six emerging benefits that are increasingly being implemented as ammunition in the talent wars, and it should come as no surprise that five of the six benefits are related to employee wellness.  The five wellness benefits that made the soft benefits list were: Subsidized gym memberships, Activity tracker competitions, Incentives for bicycle commuting, Healthier food and beverage choices, and Flexible work arrangements.

Read the full blog post here:
http://blog.wellable.co/2016/11/09/soft-benefits-growing-in-importance/

 

Virgin Pulse
How To Build A Network Of Employee Wellbeing Champions

One of the key elements of a successful employee wellbeing program is a robust network of Champions. More often than not, programs with defined Champions result in higher levels of enrollment, engagement and sustained participation thanks to the involvement of these vital contributors who promote their wellbeing programs and actively rally their peers.

Read the full blog post here:
https://www.virginpulse.com/blog-post/how-to-build-your-network-of-employee-wellbeing-champions/

 

LeanBox
The Value of Mindfulness & Meditation at Work

If you haven’t been seriously considering mindfulness and meditation as an initiative, it might be time to think about it. Here today to give us insight is Noel Coakley, an independently licensed mental health counselor, yoga instructor and trainer and consultant for mindfulness and meditation practice. Noel provides meditation training to a variety of companies across the Greater Boston area.

Read the full blog post here:
http://www.leanbox.com/blog/leanbox-interview-the-value-of-meditation-mindfulness-at-work/

 

Wellness Workdays
3 Key Benefits of Worksite Wellness Programs

There may always be individuals who don’t believe worksite wellness programs provide a return on investment (ROI), but those individuals are missing out on major benefits for their employees. While ROI is important, and a well-designed program can deliver a solid return, keep in mind that worksite wellness programs are all about employees. These programs generate invaluable results and have a real impact on bringing teams together, fostering trust, and boosting morale and motivation.

Read the full blog post:
http://www.wellnessworkdays.com/the-wellness-blog/post/5664168893980211362

Tags:  mindfulness  wellness  worksite wellness 

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Q&A with 2016 Bronze Level WorkWell MA Award Winner, Flexon Industries

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, December 14, 2016

 

2016 WorkWell MA Bronze Award Winner, Flexcon Industries
Interview with Kim Smith

Tell us about yourself and your organization. 
Flexcon Industries, a member of the Swan Group, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of pre-pressurized diaphragm tanks used in water storage applications. Focusing on quality, innovation, and customer service since 1989 they have positioned their products at the forefront of the industry. Flexcon is the first company to offer a stainless-steel water connection on a well tank, a union connection, the first flow thru tank for constant pressure systems, and the first diaphragm composite tank.

I am the Administrative Assistant/Wellness Coordinator and, along with Vicki Scopa, run the wellness program.  We organize seminars, challenges and bring in vendors from the health and wellness industry. We also handle all program communications including newsletters, postings and emails.

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for team you/your team?
We have worked hard to organize and maintain our wellness program so this means a lot to us and shows us that our efforts are worthwhile.  Vicki and I both do this in our spare time so winning an award is validation that our program is on track and working. 

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?
Wellness programs are important because it reflects on the company. It shows that they care for their employees, not just for the work that they do for the organization, but also on a personal level.  The program is not enforced and it’s not a numbers thing, meaning it doesn’t tie back to our insurance. No one is punished or rewarded for participating or not in the program, rather it is done to engage employees and help them on all levels.

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Our ongoing programs include the healthy snack of the month, we are involved in the Nourish to Flourish program, and we have a weight loss program called Weigh-to-Earn. 

We don’t currently have anything new planned but we are hoping that in conjunction with our new insurance broker we will be trying out some new programs.  We would like to bring in a vendor each month for a workshop or class for our employees to take advantage of such as a fitness classes, an ergonomics class, a nutrition workshop, etc.

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
We believe the program is good for morale. Giving people knowledge and ways to help them be healthier is the first component and then some of our wellness challenges bring everyone together so it’s great for employee morale and engagement.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
The healthy snack of the month is unique because we provide our employees with different types of food that they might not normally eat. In the past, we have given out different kinds of fruits, veggie cups and we recently have teamed up with Snack Nation, who will be providing us monthly with unique options such as plantain chips, sweet potato chips and other healthy alternatives.  We have a diverse group of people so we try to find things that are beneficial for everyone.

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 
Just myself and Vicki, who is our Document Control/Wellness Coordinator.

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 
Keep it simple to start. If you make it to elaborate to begin with it is hard to keep up.  But don’t give up – you might get a lot of resistance in the beginning but it will pay off!

 

Tags:  AwardsMassachusetts  Employee Engagement  Flexcon  HR  Human Resources  Q&A  Wellness  wellness ambassadors  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards  WWCMA 

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Q&A with 2016 Bronze Level WorkWell MA Award Winner, Alkermes

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, November 23, 2016

 

2016 WorkWell MA Bronze Award Winner, Alkermes
Interview with Shannon Smith

Tell us about your yourself and your organization. 
Alkermes is a leader in innovative medicines that address the unmet needs and challenges of people living with debilitating diseases. As a fully integrated global biopharmaceutical company, Alkermes applies our scientific expertise, proprietary technologies and global resources to develop products that are designed to make a meaningful difference in the way patients manage their disease.

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for you/your team?
We are honored to be recognized for developing a program that reflects our company’s mission of improving health through innovation. Our organization depends on us to make the work/life experience as pleasant and easy as possible, and helping our employees improve their health is the greatest reward our team can hope to achieve. 

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?
The development of medicines for patients depends on the well-being of our employees. Our Wellness Incentive Plan is a motivator—it offers benefits for all employees to help them live happier and healthier lives. 

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Our Wellness Incentive Plan is our core wellness program, however, we provide opportunities for nutrition, stress reduction and fitness as often as we can. For example, we provide onsite yoga classes, “Mindfulness” programs, walking / running challenges and healthy eating opportunities at our dining facilities. We will continue to seek ways to streamline our program to meet the needs of employees and we’ll look for new and innovative methods to encourage healthy behaviors. 

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
Employees regard the Wellness Incentive Plan as an essential part of our benefits package. New hires are impressed with the Company’s commitment to health and wellness. We take great pride in the fact that we are encouraging a culture of happy and healthy employees who like to come to work.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
One of the programs that we are most proud of is our TriAthlone Challenge.  There is a triathlon that is held each year in the town of Athlone, Ireland where our Irish manufacturing plant is located.  Each year, our U.S. employees compete for a chance to win a round trip ticket to Ireland to participate alongside their colleagues in Athlone.  Employees need to complete at least one triathlon in the U.S. in the calendar year. The more triathlons they participate in the more they increase their odds of winning.  It is a really great event that has steadily increased participation over the years.

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 
Executive Management Team, Human Resources, and our employees.

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 
With an approach that rewards and doesn’t penalize, employees feel a partnership with HR and an appreciation for our commitment to their well-being. It’s a recruiting tool, and a retention tool, and it helps build loyalty and a sense of community among our workforce. 


 

Tags:  Alkermes  AwardsMassachusetts  Human Resources  Q&A  Wellness  wellness champions  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards  WWCMA 

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Healthy Massachusetts Cities and Towns

Posted By Colleen Caruso, Thursday, June 26, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Written by Colleen Caruso, WWCMA Member and Marketing Committee Member

As a human resources professional with a strong interest in wellness, I feel happy when I see that more and more communities are doing more to make it easier to make healthy choices.  By building parks and bike paths, offering free community fitness classes, and promoting healthy eating, these communities are working to create a culture of wellness.   Employers in these areas can take advantage of these resources and may want to partner with their community to further enhance the program and partnership with their community.

Here are a few Massachusetts communities that support working on wellness!

Somerville’s Shape Up Somerville 

Somerville offers an easy commute into Boston and Cambridge and a fun social scene for students and young professionals.  According to their web site, “Shape Up Somerville” is a 15-year strategy to build and sustain a healthy community in collaboration with partners for everyone that lives, works in and visits the city.

Their mission includes:   

•    Work within the “Collective Impact” Framework grounded in a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, with SUS acting as the backbone support organization      

•    Focus on ‘Systems Change’, engaging all sectors and levels of the community including local government, businesses, schools, non-profits, healthcare, grass-roots organizations, and individuals, to create policy change 

•    Address the Social Determinants of Health, focusing on engaging at risk populations, including but not limited to: ethnic minorities, immigrants, low-income residents, and non-English speakers

•    Increase Access to Healthy Food: Food Rescue System, Affordable Farmers’ Markets, School Gardens/Farm to School, Healthy Restaurant Campaign, School Food Service Improvements, Urban Agriculture Connections, Worksite Wellness

•    Increase Access to Physical Activity opportunities: Extension of the Community Path, Green Line Subway Extension, Structured Physical Activity throughout the School Day, Walkable and Bikeable Streets and Neighborhoods, Worksite Wellness

Boston’s Office of Food Initiatives

This office was established in 2010 to engage the Boston Food Council, partners, and City departments to address directives set forward by Mayor Menino.  This group is responsible for the food trucks and farmers’ markets that have appeared around Boston over the past few years.   According to their web site, their initiatives are to:

  1. Increase access to healthy and affordable food in schools, farmers markets, and stores, educate the public about healthy choices, and promote food benefits to reduce hunger and obesity;
  2. Expand Boston’s capacity to produce, distribute and consume local food through urban agriculture and distribution models to supply schools and local businesses;
  3. Build a strong local food economy through financing and supporting local food retail and distribution businesses; and
  4. Expand private and public partnerships to advance the food agenda.

Tags:  Cities  Massachusetts  Towns  Wellness 

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