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Coalition seeks input on worksite wellness

By Candace Nelson

A local group wants to know how many vending machines your workplace has. And do they offer healthy options? What about nutritional information?

The Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement is surveying employees across the county to assess their worksite wellness.

"Employees spend more time at work than they do at home," said Judy Crabtree, the Kanawha Coalition's executive director. "Now more than ever, it's important for worksites to be places that support healthy eating and physical activities."

The group conducts a countywide health needs assessment in the form of telephone interviews and online surveys. That information is analyzed and compared to the rest of the state. Then, the coalition presents its findings from the survey to the community. The community chooses three issues to prioritize for the next three years. During the last survey, in 2011, community members chose to focus on obesity/nutrition, lack of physical activity and drug abuse. This is the fifth assessment the group has conducted.

Teams to tackle these issues were created, and the two created to address obesity/nutrition and lack of physical activity decided to tackle worksite wellness as the root for the issues, Crabtree said.

The coalition is asking employees of small, medium and large businesses, public, private or nonprofit, to take the survey to better understand worksite needs.

"We will run the survey through the middle of April and determine whether or not we have enough responses or if we need to extend it," said Cullen Naumoff of the Charleston Area Alliance. Naumoff has been a part of the worksite wellness team.

"I've been serving as an intermediary for the worksite wellness group and business community," Naumoff said. "We've had just over 1,500 respondents so far for the survey. Interestingly, we probably have more from employees in the health care sector because they're probably more cued into that. We have a broad range of respondents so far, and we want to keep expanding that."

To access the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/MJXKQ77. Questions focus on physical activity and nutrition, such as whether or not there are stairwells in a workplace. If so, are they well-marked, clean and safe? Other questions focus on vending machines and their contents or if a cafeteria is available and offers healthy options.

When the coalition receives enough responses, it plans to share the result with businesses and develop a "toolkit" to be shared to focus on how businesses can incorporate healthy eating and active living at the workplace.

To further encourage employees to participate, the coalition offers a drawing that those who complete the survey can enter to win either a $100 gift card or a fitness package of portable fitness equipment valued at $100, Crabtree said.

To get involved with the obesity/nutrition, physical activity or drug abuse workgroups, visit www.healthykanawha.org/Get_Involved.html. The first two meet on the second Thursday of each month from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department at 108 Lee Street East. The drug abuse workgroup meets on the third Wednesday of each month from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. Dial-in options are also available.

For more information, contact the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement at 304-388-7557.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at Candace.Nelson@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Candace07.


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