YSU takes the bronze

For the second consecutive year, Youngstown State University received a bronze-level honor in the large employer category of the Healthy Ohioans-Healthy Worksite Award.

The Healthy Ohioans-Healthy Worksite Award is the product of a joint effort between the Ohio Department of Health and the Healthy Ohio Business Council.

The award recognizes companies throughout Ohio that put an emphasis on employee health and wellness, as well as on a healthy work environment.

In 2012, 86 Ohio companies applied for the award. Only 35 were recognized for their efforts. YSU was the only university in the state and the only company in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to receive one of the awards.

Linda Scovern, physical activity and nutrition coordinator for the Ohio Department of Health, explained that worksite wellness provides “a myriad of ways to help the bottom line.”

“A lot of studies done show health of employees affect the health of the business,” Scovern said.

She explained that efforts put forth by the employer that positively affect employees, such as wellness fairs and on-site fitness centers, will then have a positive effect on the business.

“It’s a win-win for both the employee and the employer,” Scovern said. Carrie Clyde, YSU wellness coordinator, said YSU provides many different programs that the faculty is able to use, including Weight Watchers at Work and incentive programs.

“We’re challenging, motivating employees to make small changes in their everyday lives, hopefully to impact them going forward,” Clyde said.

Scott Leonard, an English professor at YSU, visits the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center regularly to participate in one of the many incentive programs offered.

“It’s a good facility,” Leonard said. “I’m healthier for it for sure. Feel better, generally.”

Along with incentive programs, YSU also offers health screenings once a year and monthly health seminars.

“We work with our faculty members. We have Zara Rowlands from human ecology doing a gastrointestinal disease series for us,” Clyde said. “So, it’s nice to have experts in their fields be able to shed some light on these topics in regards to wellness.”

Even though many different programs are offered, 54 percent of the faculty does not take part in any wellness activities on campus.

“It’s a voluntary program, and we want it to be something that people are enjoying and that they don’t feel forced to have to participate in,” Clyde said. “As exciting as fitness can be, not everyone is overjoyed about having to do fitness activities.”

Leonard said he would like to see more holistic approaches to wellness on campus.

“I could see things as sort of a faculty or yoga program that integrates mind, body, those types of things,” Leonard said. “I know that there are classes that are offered at the Rec, but they would have to happen later in the afternoon.”

YSU’s wellness program also reaches out to local businesses in order to help faculty continue their healthy practices at home. Clyde said many local gyms and similar businesses have been cooperative in giving discounts to YSU employees.

“People are very receptive to our efforts, so that’s great,” Clyde said. “It’s only going to help enhance what we’re doing and, over time, make our program even greater.”