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Wellness Champions program engages School District of Palm Beach County employees


Giving employees a financial incentive — a $600-a-year discount on the premiums they pay for their health care coverage — is one key way the School District of Palm Beach County encourages employees to take steps to spot medical conditions before they develop into expensive medical complications.

But the West Palm Beach, Florida-based school district has another program to boost employee participation in activities aimed at improving health.

That program, called Wellness Champions, allows employees to volunteer as “ambassadors for wellness,” said Dianne L. Howard, the school district's director of risk management and benefits.

As wellness champions, they engage friends and colleagues to participate in wellness programs and create excitement about leading a healthy lifestyle, and are eligible to receive $500 annual stipends for organizing wellness-related activities such as runs, walks or exercise groups.

Initially, only 30 employees volunteered for the program, but that number has grown to 180.

“The champions have played an integral part in changing our culture to embrace healthy living and wellness in general,” Ms. Howard said. “For example, some champions inspired their school staff so much that some have instilled the healthy habits they have learned into programs for students.”

“We didn't think we would ever get to this point, but now we have wellness champions at 99% of our locations,” she said.