The Neighborhood House Association (NHA) was established in 1914 with the mission to enrich lives through a continuum of education and wellness services. Today, they are a distinguished agency providing innovative and comprehensive human services to those in need. NHA received a generous grant from a local foundation to promote child health and obesity prevention in San Diego. After considering their current initiatives, researching best practices, and exploring options available through their grant, NHA decided to focus on developing a staff wellness program.

NHAā€™s goal was to integrate physical activity into their programming to support healthy lifestyles for their employees and improve the lifestyles of the children they serve. To do so, NHA partnered with Live Well San Diego to provide directly facilitate movement and self-regulation exercises.

As a first step, NHA administered an interest survey developed and offered by the Live Well training group. After they collected and analyzed the data, they developed an operating plan, including determining how many participants to expect at events, identifying facilities to use, and assessing resources and support.

NHA started small. They began with three lunch-time exercise classes per week in a gym next door to a local school. Live Well staff also developed food logs for participants to fill out during the sessions to track their diet. NHA promoted the new staff wellness program through social media, school announcements, newsletters, and informational meetings. At the first class, the Live Well staff administered the health needs assessment and had all participants sign a liability waiver.

As their operational and evaluation plans dictated, NHA took attendance at each class and measured various process and outcome data. As time went on, more and more employees attended, so the Wellness Leader, Wellness Committee, and Live Well staff had to adapt. To do this, teachers from Live Well volunteered to donate extra equipment and time to ensure all participants had the assistance and attention they needed. At the end of the year, NHA and Live Well conducted a full evaluation.

Based on the initial success, NHA decided to continue their partnership for another year, supported by another private grant. The evaluation also showed several areas for improvement:

  • The exercise classes and nutrition initiatives worked well. NHA will continue these activities.
  • Many interested participants could not attend the exercise classes during lunch. NHA is reaching out to the local YMCA to request space to do afternoon and evening exercise classes.
  • There were no activities that explicitly targeted mental, emotional, and social health needs. NHA intends to add support groups, counseling sessions, and stress relief activities.

A majority of participants reported higher satisfaction and perception of self; incorporated more physical activity into classroom routines, transitions, and activities; and provided more information on childrenā€™s health and physical activity to families.

Learn more from NHSA’s wellness toolkit.

Victoria Jones

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