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January 20, 2016

Workforce Wellness Workgroup Gains Regional Recognition

MEXICO- The Oswego County Department of Social Services Workforce Wellness Workgroup (WWW) was recognized as a finalist in WellTrail'sfifth annual Healthy Workplace Awards Summit held in Syracuse inDecember.

"We were honored to be selected as a finalist for this competition and to join so many well-knownorganizations with respected wellness programs," said Marti Babcock, interim commissioner of the Oswego County Department of Social Services. "Thepurpose of this group is to provide opportunities to enhance the health and well-being of their peers and fellow staff. Being recognized for this endeavor is a wonderful endorsement of their efforts."

The workgroup began their program in 2002 with a grant from the Oswego County YMCA. The award was for one year of guidance and $500 to assist with costs. Senior Computer Specialist and Wellness CoordinatorJill Woodsaid, "This program is a great opportunity to boost the morale and well-being of DSS staff. From walking challenges to Lunch 'n Learn sessions to fun days and community service, there are many ways for employees to better their work environment and improve their everyday lives."

She added, "Several food, walking, and virtual challenges are held throughout the year and many employees have continued their healthy practices even after the challengesare completed."

Additional activities includeperiodic Lunch 'n Learn sessions that cover a variety of topics from health and nutrition,to tips on getting organized, to Humor in the Workplace videos. Yoga andTai Chi classes have also sprung from these sessions. The staff also enjoys time together outside of the office with planned family activities such as sledding, snow-shoeing, hiking and bird-watching. The Oswego County Tourism Office donated water bottles to support the wellness group's activities.

The wellness program also promotes community service by supporting several local organizations through donations or by wearing their colors. Some of the groups that have benefitted include the Food Bank of Central New York, Oswego County Opportunities, Inc. (SAF House to combat domestic violence), the American Heart Association and the "Go Red for Women" campaign, and the United Way of Greater Oswego County.

Most recently, the WWW launched the People's Produce Project to help residents put fresh local produce on their tables and find healthy new recipes. Staff worked with area businesses and organizations to fund the construction of several raised vegetable and herb garden beds. They also volunteered to maintain the beds on their off-time. More than 100 local families benefited from last year's harvest which yielded more than 200 servings of vegetables. "We're always looking for new ideas that will interest the staff," said Wood. "Right now, we're working on a new walking challenge for 2016 that will include visiting historical places throughout the county."

Employees from all areas of the agency are encouraged to take part in the program. Costs are kept to a minimum to increase participation and fundraisers, such as selling "Morale Matters" pins, have helpedraise money for activities.

For more information about WWW programs and community service projects,or to make a contribution or volunteer, please call 963-5360.

Members of the Oswego County Department of Social Services Workforce Wellness Workgroup gather to support the Food Bank of Central New York, just one of the many organizations that benefit from their program. The group offers a variety of opportunities for employees to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and work environment including walking challenges, Lunch 'n Learn sessions and community service. They were recently recognized as a finalist in WellTrail'sfifth annual Healthy Workplace Awards Summit in Syracuse.

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