It’s 3:00 pm: Time to Get Up & Dance!
Submitted by Organizational Champion, Cheshire Medical Center Dartmouth Hitchcock Keene
If you walk into The Insurance Source on Court Street in Keene at exactly 3 p.m. every day, you will be in for a surprise. In a back room, away from the main offices, six women are gathered. The upbeat music is blasting. And they are dancing and laughing and whooping it up. At 3:05 the song is over, the dance party ends, and the employees and owner Cheryl Belair go back to their offices. They are invigorated, cheerful and ready to work again until quitting time at 5 p.m.
“We all wanted to have some kind of break every day— like recess,” says Cheryl, who co-founded the insurance agency 30 years ago. “We could all march in place… but what fun is that?” The daily “dance party” is a creative way this local insurance agency’s employees thought of to get themselves away from their desks and computers and get moving. And it is just one of the ways that this Healthy Monadnock 2020 Organizational Champion is making it easy for its employees to become healthier and happier.
“We are an Organizational Champion, and the majority of us are also individual Champions. This year, we will celebrate ‘Three decades of dedication’ to our clients, but we are also dedicated to our employees,” notes Cheryl.
One individual Champion, Ana O’Donnell, 41, a commercial supervisor, says that with the financial help and moral support of her employer she was able to quit smoking a few years ago. Ana has also managed to lose 125 pounds, thanks in part to lap band surgery two years ago, she says, but also because of the health-promoting atmosphere at her workplace.
“Cheryl makes it easy for us to get out and walk at lunch, or leave a little early to go the gym,” says Ana. Her employer created a ten-minute walking route, several blocks in length, and encourages the staff to get up from their desks and take a walk each day. On the last Friday of the month Cheryl buys the entire office a healthy lunch.
The dance party idea is just one of the fun ways that this close-knit office is becoming healthier. “We also laugh a lot… we all have a good sense of humor,” she says. The Insurance Source is one of 85 local groups that have become Healthy Monadnock Organizational Champions and are working to support their employees to quit smoking, eat healthier foods and incorporate exercise and physical activity breaks into the workday.
Healthy Monadnock 2020 began seven years ago with a challenge from Cheshire Medical Center/ Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene: Let’s become the healthiest community in the nation by 2020. It was, admittedly, a bold idea, but one that was eagerly embraced by citizens, community and business leaders.
Through the leadership of representatives from both the public and private sectors — including schools, employers, service clubs and faith-based organizations — and with the guidance of the Council for a Healthier Community, a local health improvement coalition that has been in existence since 1994, the foundation was set for helping build the healthiest community in the nation.
Today, Healthy Monadnock 2020 aims to work with individuals and organizations to meet the following goals:
- Increase healthy eating
- Increase active living
- Increase educational attainment
- Increase livable wages/jobs, and
- Improve mental well-being
How is our community getting closer to these goals? One way is through the activities of our Community Partners. These are organizations that are working hard to implement the initiative’s 26 action strategies, such as building a robust local food system, making our streets safer for walking and biking, creating and identifying healthy menu options in restaurants and cafeterias, advocating for policies that increase active living and healthy eating in schools and workplaces, and many other initiatives throughout the community.
“The role of Healthy Monadnock 2020 is to engage our community in projects and policies that improve quality of life and prevent chronic disease by making the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone,” says Linda Rubin, director of Healthy Monadnock 2020’s Healthy Community Initiative. “So far, we have engaged more than 2,220 individuals, 85 organizations, 6 community partners and 18 schools in this work and as a result, 11 out of the 27 indicators we are monitoring have shown improvement since 2008. Everyone is invited to visit our website, for a listing of Organizational and School Champions and reports on the Initiative’s activities and progress.”
“High quality medical care is at the forefront of our work as a community hospital, but to ensure that every resident reaches his or her full health potential, we know we must engage the community in actions that will prevent patients from needing our services in the first place,” says Art Nichols, CEO of Cheshire Medical Center/ Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.
“We all benefit if we can earn the title, ‘the healthiest community in the nation,’ ” adds Linda. “Get involved with Healthy Monadnock. Become an individual Champion or let your boss know about the Organizational Champions program and how it can help your workplace become healthier and happier. If you are a parent, encourage your child’s school to become a School Champion and advocate for healthy school meals and safe routes to walk and bike to your child’s school. Working together, we can become the nation’s healthiest community.”