AHA names Grand Valley 'fit-friendly'

Pictured from left are Gayle R. Davis, Norine Mulvihill, Thomas J. Haas, Kelly Lemon-Samborski and D. Scott Richardson.
Pictured from left are Gayle R. Davis, Norine Mulvihill, Thomas J. Haas, Kelly Lemon-Samborski and D. Scott Richardson.
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The American Heart Association recognized Grand Valley as a Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite for 2012.

President Thomas J. Haas, Provost Gayle R. Davis and Associate Vice President for Human Resources D. Scott Richardson accepted the award from AHA representatives on December 4 at the DeVos Center.

Criteria for being named an AHA Fit-Friendly Worksite include promoting a wellness culture, offering physical activity options, increasing healthy eating options and demonstrating measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

Grand Valley’s health and wellness initiatives are housed in the Human Resources office but extend throughout the campus. Examples include the following:

• Fitness challenges and team-oriented events for faculty and staff members;
• A partnership with Encompass, an employee assistance program;
• Campus farmers market;
• Elder care, child care and divorce support groups for faculty and staff members;
• Weight Watchers at Work classes.

Richardson said these efforts increased greatly after a 2006 campus task force report helped develop strategies to help minimize university health care costs and emphasize health and wellness initiatives.

“This is an investment made by the university to have long-term impact on the health of faculty and staff, as well as the financial health of the university,” Richardson said.

He credited Lindsey DesArmo, health and wellness coordinator, for spearheading many initiatives, including helping to implement a Healthy Choices program, in which faculty and staff members undergo an annual clinical risk assessment that is free and confidential. Participants can track their wellness activities online for incentives.

David Cuneo, president of Health Plan Advocate and the chair of the 2013 Grand Rapids Heart Walk, congratulated Grand Valley on the award. “The Fit-Friendly Worksites Program offers a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees’ physical activity, which will help improve their health, and their employers’ bottom line,” Cuneo said.