Sitka Wellness Coalition Honors Mount Edgecumbe High School

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2007

SITKA - The Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition has honored Mount Edgecumbe High School with its Well Workplace of the Month award for December.

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The award recognizes the efforts of Sitka organizations who promote employee wellness within their worksites.

So far this school year at Mount Edgecumbe High School, the distribution and sale of soda pop has been scaled back with an ambitious plan of curtailing the drinks even further, timers have been placed on the vending machines, and MEHS students and staff have virtually walked to Barrow.

How did the school get on its current wellness kick? Principal Bernie Gurule said it's an attitude that starts at the top, with the school administrators and teachers.

"We are role models and kids notice that," Gurule said. "Setting the healthy example is one of the most powerful things we can do for them. Providing employee wellness programs shows we are concerned and care about the staff as individuals."

With that in mind, Gurule started an activity log awards program 2½ years ago. Every time a teacher does 30 minutes of physical activity, the teacher's name is entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate.

Every two weeks a new winner is selected and the name is announced live over the school intercom.

Four Mount Edgecumbe High School staff members attended the Working Well in Alaska employee wellness training in September, and now Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator Carl Blackhurst is leading a new staff wellness team.

When asked about the school's progress this year, Blackhurst said, "We have a good group of people and they seem committed to affecting the overall health of the school."

The Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition is a community wide organization promoting workplace wellness and the group is open to all Sitka workplaces interested in designing and implementing effective employee wellness plans.

The coalition was created as a follow-up to the Working Well in Alaska employee wellness training seminar held in September in Sitka, and is co-sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka Community Hospital and the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program. The next meeting is 3-4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

For more information on the Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition, contact Doug Osborne of SEARHC Health Promotion at 966-8734 or Elisabeth Crane of Sitka Community Hospital at 747-1721.

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