December 6, 2010
Consult the classifieds in this issue to find 3 notices, 11 bids and proposals, and 7 job opportunities!
Ann Arbor Promotes Employee Wellness
BY LOIS CRAWFORD, Community Relations, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority/TheRide, Ann Arbor, MI
The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) revved up the concept of employee health awareness with its recent “Keep Your Motor Running Health Fair.” The event gave participants the opportunity to enjoy a variety of hands-on activities, and not just from the chair and table massage therapists!
“What sets this health fair apart from typical employer-sponsored health fairs is that it’s interactive. There are things for the employees to do, not just information being handed out. I work with a lot of groups, and TheRide has taken it to the next level,” said Sara Szul, health management coordinator for the Kapnick Insurance Group, who assisted TheRide’s Wellness Committee in organizing the fair.
On the Dot
Szul distributed “stress dots,” which reveal an individual’s level of stress (similar to the classic mood ring) when placed on the person’s hand, during the event. She also promoted participation in the Great American Smoke-Out and other smoking cessation approaches, stress management, and general health guidelines.
The health fair featured 15 stations in only its second year, with outside vendors, visiting nurses providing flu shots and prostate screenings, a selection of healthy snacks and lunch items, and a prize wheel.
“At TheRide, we have worked hard to develop an active and effective wellness program for our employees, and are continuing that effort into the coming year. I applaud our Wellness Committee and volunteers for their efforts in putting on another successful event,” said AATA Chief Executive Officer Michael Ford.
Best Feet Forward
Encouraging employees to put their best feet forward was Victor Sellinger of Running Fit. His booth offered TheRide employees the chance to examine high-quality athletic shoes, orthotic inserts, and flip-flops, as well as support devices for feet and legs.
Across the room, Faye Conner, community outreach coordinator for First Choice Chiropractic, spoke about spinal health.
To help TheRide employees who see their health care costs rising, the One-on-One Athletic Club station emphasized that exercise is the best medicine. Fair participants met with Meghann Swiderek, wellness coordinator for the club, who said: “Exercise doesn’t have to be about running on a treadmill or lifting weights; you can play basketball or racquetball, for instance. It’s more about moving than just taking a run.”
The club, now entering its 20th year, is just around the block from TheRide and offers member and non-member options with flexible pricing, Swiderek said.
Blue Care Network of Michigan, which manages employee insurance at TheRide, offered blood pressure readings and information on managing stress and weight. Also talking with attendees was a representative of Concentra, which serves the agency’s employees with urgent care in the case of accident or illness and conducts random drug testing at its Ann Arbor clinic, one of more than 325 nationwide.
Weight loss has been a key focus at TheRide during the past year, highlighted by a 10-week “Biggest Losers” competition among 40 of the system’s 190 employees. TheRide also began a running club whose members trained to participate in the recent University of Michigan Big House Big Heart charity fund-raising run. These activities are just two examples of programs that TheRide’s Wellness Committee has introduced as part of its ongoing “TheRide for Life” wellness campaign.
A Weight Watchers station at the health fair provided an opportunity for employees to sign up for a series of Weight Watchers at Work sessions, along with free health bars and literature.
The event also addressed employees’ mental health concerns. TheRide invited its employee assistance program, TEAM, to present information and a guide to its services. Dr. Carol A. Syperski was on hand to chat with employees about TEAM’s many counseling and referral services.
“TEAM provides access to licensed mental health therapists for counseling and coaching, and offers referrals for not only employees, but also their spouses, live-in partners, and children,” Syperski said. “We also help participating companies with management services, consultation and referrals, and supervisor training.”
Providing a wealth of referral information on the best sources for health information was Judy Smith of the University of Michigan’s Taubman Health Sciences Library.
“We wanted to participate in the health fair because the library has a strong outreach component as part of the national network of libraries of medicine,” Smith said. “We support not only the university, but also the public—with printed materials that direct people to reliable, quality online resources such as MedlinePlus.gov, a great resource for extensive consumer health information.”
Josh Davidson of Aflac spoke about this insurance plan, designed to supplement health care costs for everyday living expenses during a period of sickness or injury that are not covered by health insurance, such as groceries, child care, rent, etc. “Aflac also has a wellness benefit that can pay you when you are healthy, such as for annual checkups,” he added.
AATA CEO Michael Ford samples some of the healthy foods prepared for health fair attendees by Transportation Administrative Assistant Kathy Forts.
Motor coach operator Wilma Wilson spins TheRide’s Prize Wheel for a chance at health-related gifts, while Information Specialist Vivian Connor awaits the outcome.