09/27/06 — WAGES workers start campaign to 'get fit'

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WAGES workers start campaign to 'get fit'

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 27, 2006 1:47 PM

WAGES employees took the first steps toward better health last week with an afternoon rally on the track at Goldsboro Intermediate School.

All 190 workers from WAGES were required to attend the kick-off for the "WAGES Gets Fit" wellness campaign that will encompass the next year. But enrollment was voluntary.

The effort is designed to not only help workers embrace a healthier lifestyle but to become an example for its clients as well as other community agencies.

"Part of our mission statement is we want to improve the quality of life and health. In order to do that, we need to model that behavior," said Brownie Doss, director of the Meals on Wheels program.

The event introduced the campaign in the form of an afternoon rally. Employees were given information and educational materials about health and exercise, followed by a walk around the track. There were also vendor booths where they could learn more about exercise and fitness opportunities in the community.

Those who chose could sign up for the year-long program and they could participate in aerobics, volleyball and basketball events.

WAGES Get Fit is a spin-off of a statewide initiative implemented by Christine Smith of and Geissler Baker, family and consumer science extension agents with Wayne County Cooperative Extension. The N.C. Cooperative Extension will provide educational programs, tools and materials, as well as conducting staff training.

"We'll provide you all the support and educational materials you'll need to be successful in this program, but the rest is up to you," Mrs. Smith told those at the rally. "Take the enthusiasm today and use it to improve your health."

Mrs. Smith said employees will be encouraged to pair up with a co-worker on the "buddy system" to encourage one another. Each person enrolled also received a personalized wellness journal to track progress.

Jackie Baldwin from Head Start gave her own testimonial about what prompted her to sign up for the program. She said that while playing with Head Start youngsters over the summer at the playground on Royall West, several crawled through a play tunnel. Deciding to do likewise, she found herself unable to complete the task.

"The kids asked, 'Miss Jackie, are you stuck?'" she said, then shared her reply. "I said, 'No, I'm just resting.'"

As luck would have it, the next day was the first meeting about the wellness program. Ms. Baldwin said she signed up right away.

"So you know what my goal is - to get through that tunnel at Royall West," she told the gathering. "I'm going to get fit."

June Monk, director of the Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions programs, said she looked forward to participating in the program.

"I think it's an opportunity for all WAGES staff to become physically fit - not necessarily lose weight," she said. "My goal is to be healthy and stay out of the hospital."

Carlotta Council of the teaching staff said she had already begun exercising the week before.

"Me and my teaching staff are already talking about it. We're going to do this together," she said, noting that it will not be as a competition but "just encouraging each other."

WAGES staff member Carleen Johnson-Alleyne said she has always been an advocate for health.

"My entire adult life I have always participated in some form of physical fitness - exercise, walking - always something because I know the importance of it," she said. "I have a not-so-great family history, so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Brandi Thigpen, an Early Head Start teacher, said she "definitely wants to get fit" and plans to be encouraging others to do the same.

"I just think it's a good program. There's going to be come good incentives to get the staff involved," she said. "I'm all for it."

Mrs. Smith said there will be in-house competitions between departments, prizes and awards along the way, and educational programs offered every two weeks.

She also said that the program is available for other organizations, civic groups or local government agencies interested in providing it for their employees. Call 731-1525. There is no charge for the service, she said.