Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Wellness starts at home

bullying

Let me begin by stating that this blog is written from my voice that (at least today) is equal parts parent and health promotion advocate.  Our readers probably don't subscribe to this blog looking to commiserate over shared parenting experiences, but I suspect that we're not the only family dealing with the issue I describe below.  I invite and encourage you to join into this conversation by sharing your stories and your solutions below.

 It started a few months ago at school.

Our second grader came home from school a few months ago and shared that he had been teased at lunch by his peers.  They were mocking him for having fresh cut red, yellow, orange, and green peppers in his lunch.  At the time, I didn't think much about it.  My son doesn't pack his lunch often, and I figured kids will be kids.

Recently however, while participating in the district-offered winter break care program, he came home one afternoon in a horrible mood.  After some careful prodding, we learned that he had been taunted by "bigger kids" during lunchtime for (again) having fresh cut veggies as part of his lunch. 

We spent a good bit of time with him that evening getting more information and helping him come up with some strategies that might help him feel like he had some control.  Ultimately, he decided he was okay with fruit in his lunch, but that he'd forego lunch veggies and just double up at dinner.

What are we teaching our kids?

After we triaged through what was most important for our son, my husband and I started talking about the bigger picture in this situation.  Right or wrong, I'm a less concerned about the general taunting and more concerned about the subject of the mocking.  I realize that he is my first school-aged child, and perhaps I'm hopelessly naive.  But I was shocked to learn that children would make fun of a peer over having a healthy lunch. 

Then it hit me...eating healthy still isn't the norm.

Kids tease and taunt about anything that isn't "normal" or typical.  The sad truth is that veggies for kids (or grown ups, for that matter) still isn't routine.  Despite the easy-to-digest science,  most of us don't get enough fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. 

Having spent years in a corporate wellness environment for NIFS clients, I can speak with some confidence that culturally, we're still swimming upstream to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice for our workforce. 

Despite some remaining significant gaps in the availability of healthy foods across the US, improvements have been, and continue to be made.  School lunches have improved too under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  Unfortunately, we have a long (oh, so very long) way to go when it comes to both teaching and providing our children with the tools they need to live well. 

It starts at HOME.

Teaching your kids to be tolerant of differences, inquisitive instead of acusatory, and embracing of diversity (in ALL forms) is not easy.  We grown ups have a lot to learn about these actions.  But really - really, teaching your child to embrace a variety of foods, fascilating your child's exposure to new food experiences, and support their individual choices while maintaining nutritional standards and expectations should not be that hard.   

If nothing else, teach your children the old adage, "You are what you eat" by practicing what you preach.  Put a little color on your plate (and I don't mean taste the rainbow of skittles), and enlist the support of others.  Let Wayne Brady rock it out for your kids!

Topics: healthy workforce worksite wellness corporate wellness healthy mom kids

NIFS: Plan for a safe Halloween

halloween kids resized 600With Halloween right around the corner, it is quickly creeping up on us.  Those creative little minds leave us trying to figure out what costumes we will be coming up with.  Mummies and super heroes to princesses and rock stars the costumes are unlimited.  I’m in charge of the butterfly this year, grabbing wings from the play closet and a leotard from the gymnastic drawer I think we have it pretty easy this year.  What extremes do you go to for that perfect costume to make your youngster happy to go trekking for candy, do you buy or craft the costumes yourself?

The festivities that surround the holiday such as costume parties, fall festivals, and trunk or treat events make it important to keep your family safe.   Costume accessories should be plastic and not become a hazard, talk to you child about being safe in their costume.  Consider how you can help keep your child seen while out in the dark hours; provide them with a flash light and instruct them to remain on the sidewalks.  Our household decided this year we will be handing out glow sticks and glow necklaces to help promote safety in our neighborhood.  Pairing these with pretzels and minimal candy options we definitely went with the safe and healthier Halloween options to promote wellness.  Is your house a strictly candy house, or have you gone to the ways of play-doh and pretzels?

For more tips to have a SAFE HALLOWEEN the CDC has provided some tips to prepare your child to have an enjoyable and safe Halloween!  Trick or Treat!!

Topics: healthy mom halloween safety

How does the Health of Dependents Impact Employers

sick kids, illness, insurance costsRecently, the cost of health care has risen to over $2.5 trillion and is projected to increase, on average, 6.1 percent per year until 2019.  These costs have also risen for employers who pay for their employees' health plans.

Rates are rising due to employees' family members also becoming ill.  This forces employees to use more money and potentially miss work when a family member is sick.  An ill child can take a toll not only on the parents, but the company they work for.

The Cost of Unscheduled Absenteeism

The average annual cost for a company due to unscheduled employee absenteeism is estimated to be over $760,000.  These unplanned absences include personal days, or days one must stay home to care for an ill child.

Loss of productivity and administrative costs are the main issues when it comes to these missed days.  The extra work is then taken on by other workers, or less-effective replacements, therefore causing a loss of efficiency in the company.  Also, these replacements cost the company extra money, or the company needs to pay another employee overtime for their service.  Unplanned absences are responsible for 21 percent of productivity loss per year versus 15 percent for those absences that were previously planned.

Sick Child Care Helps Avoid Unscheduled Absences

A possible solution for companies to avoid spending an overabundance of money on these absences, would be to offer sick child care.  These services are becoming more popular among businesses.  Placing a child care program in a business has an immense impact on the company's expenditure.  When a child care assistance program is in place, the company spends less money than if the parent were absent from work.  This type of program can have an enormous impact on a company and may be worth the investment. 

Topics: healthy workforce worksite wellness common cold healthy baby healthy mom Wellness in the Workplace