DTSD Fitbit Wellness Challenge

If you visit Dennis Township schools this fall, you might see a lot of teachers and staff sweating – not because of test grades or state mandates, but rather through the efforts of the School Wellness Committee.

Janice Tice, school nurse and Wellness Committee member, submitted and won a grant proposal to the Southern Coastal Regional Employee Benefits Fund for $10,000 to develop a Wellness Challenge program.

“I was really excited about getting the grant, but I wasn’t sure how the staff would react to having to sign up to participate in the challenge,” Tice admitted.  “I based the grant on having one-hundred thirty-nine full and part time staff with a thirty-five percent participation rate, so maybe between forty-five to fifty people.  Turns out that over one hundred staff members are participating, so we have more than twice the number of people than we expected!”

The grant allows Tice to set up a Fitbit Wellness Challenge for the school year with staff members vying for prizes in various types of competitions.  Each participating staff member will get a new Fitbit, ranging from a free Flex to a discounted Blaze, and is encouraged to join in as many mini-challenges as possible as well as a school-wide goal of a million steps per day.

Principal Jamie VanArtsdalen, who recently brought yoga and Zumba to a staff professional development day, is also excited about the grant.  She says she’s thrilled that Tice was able to make it happen and looks forward to a healthier, happier staff.

“I like the fact that we’ll be working together to meet not only professional goals, but lifestyle goals and improvements as well,” explains VanArtsdalen.  “I’m looking forward to seeing our district employees motivating themselves and each other during this challenge and getting healthier in the process.”

Tice explains that, aside from the motivational factors of the challenge, there are very practical benefits for the district, such as increased employee health and reduced doctor visits and sick days, and providing positive role models for students to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  “Studies have shown that workplace health and wellness programs have a positive effect on employee attitude, performance and longevity,” states Tice.  “This is a great start to having a healthier district.”