Milwaukee Public Schools Recognized For Workplace Wellness

American Heart Association Gave District High Marks

Gwenael Paiser (CC-BY-NC-SA)

The American Heart Association recognizes worksites for wellness programs that meet certain criteria. Milwaukee Public Schools have gotten the Gold award, one of only two school districts in the state to do so.

The AHA estimates that 25 percent of health care costs for workers are the result of poor diet and lack of exercise.

Tara Witt is the employee wellness coordinator for Milwaukee Public Schools. She said the district has had a wellness program for eight years but only recently got recognition from the AHA.

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Witt said the district doesn’t know yet if the program is reducing health costs yet but she said interest is high.

“We opened up on-site wellness registration in the last couple of weeks and we’ve seen 80 different sites request programs. Out of the 120 sites we have, we would consider that a huge success,” she said.

Witt said the local YMCA offers help managing chronic conditions like diabetes, the district’s health insurer offers gym reimbursement based on attendance and there are activity sessions like boot camps before and after school.

The AHA suggests a number of ways to increase physical activity in the workplace through its Fit-Friendly Worksite Wellness Program, everything from having clean, well-lit stairways to encourage walking to conducting management meetings while walking.