Healthy competition – The Garden Island

Healthy competition – The Garden Island

HANAMA‘ULU — Ten teams, dozens of participants, and only one trophy.

Stakes are high in the 2020 Worksite Wellness Challenge, a nine-month competition that pits employers on Kaua‘i against each other to make worksites healthier for everyone on the island.

“It’s like giving birth,” said Bev Brody of Get Fit Kaua‘i. “Nine months and you end up with a new, healthier company.”

The challenge kicked off Friday at a breakfast hosted by Get Fit Kaua‘i at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort, and Brody said this year will be particularly interesting because all of the teams are returning competitors.

In fact, it was a competition just to get into the competition, because there were so many employers that were interested in participating.

“Everybody’s already been through it, and we had to turn people away because we only have 10 coaches for the teams,” Brody said.

The Kaua‘i Worksite Wellness Challenge is a contest that encourages changes in the workplace, and takes place every other year — basically during even-numbered years. Those changes amount to points, and the points are counted up at the end of the nine-month challenge. The winner gets a trophy — and some major bragging rights.

Sheraton Kaua‘i at Coconut Beach won the last challenge.

“Last year, at the awards breakfast, the room erupted when we announced the winners,” Brody said. “It’s fun, exciting.”

Teams fill out a before-and-after score card that rates how much companies invest in wellness in the workplace. Criteria include providing wellness-education sessions, changing policies — like prohibiting smoking, creating opportunities to go to the farmers’ markets and encouraging physical activity.

In the 2018 challenge, Kaua‘i Coffee Company scored a perfect score on the card. They received their own award for a perfect score on Friday.

“One of our teams last year created a walking path around their workplace,” Brody said.

Teams involved in the 2020 Worksite Wellness Challenge include Aqua Engineers, Costco, County of Kaua‘i, Grove Farm, Kaua‘i Coffee Company, Kaua‘i Community College, state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office, Kaua‘i Marriott Resort &Beach Club, Sheraton Kapa‘a Coconut Beach Resort and Wilcox Health.

Putting up flyers that encourage healthy eating or other wellness initiatives scores points. Creating more opportunities for physical activity scores points. Having written policies on breastfeeding scores points. Providing opportunities for stress management scores points, for example.

“County of Kaua‘i is going to bring it,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami, giving his competitors a friendly stare-down during the opening breakfast. “It’s because we care and we’re investing in our number one resource.”

Mark Perriello, head of Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, stopped by to speak at Friday’s breakfast, pointing out the challenge is a good chance to re-focus on personal health, wellness and fitness, as well as a chance to have some fun with co-workers and community members.

“We all get busy and life gets in the way,” he said. “It’s a great way to set aside time, a great way to get back to health.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.


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