In every industry, people are at the heart of an organization’s success. More than ever, employers are recognizing that staff wellness initiatives contribute to not only better morale and engagement, but also to a more robust bottom line. Educational leaders at the Riverview School District understand this and have turned their efforts toward raising awareness of personal wellness among students and employees.

Since refreshing its wellness policy last year, Riverview has developed many new and creative approaches and wellness activities, many of which are embedded throughout the school day. Wellness activities are now woven into the fabric of the district’s schedule and include new initiatives such as Mindful Mondays, Fitness Fridays and morning exercise sessions and movement activities at the elementary schools.

Aspiring journalists at RVTV, the high school’s student television station, are developing wellness segments focused on mental health. The district’s food service department is engaging in community outreach to parents to share information about healthy foods and review school menus.

Right before the start of their Thanksgiving break, staff and students had the chance to burn off excess calories by joining the junior/senior high school’s first annual Turkey Trot. The wellness day also included a marine boot camp, an obstacle course and yoga sessions.

Much of the success of the district-wide effort can be attributed to wellness committees that represent each school building. The committees, composed of students staff and parents, have also initiated additional events such as fitness walks, hoops for heart and the Cha-cha slide.

“The wellness committees at each building have also been instrumental in helping to build enthusiasm and making sure the realities of the plans we create are implemented,” Dr. Margaret “Peggy” DiNinno says. “We continue to add new activities and ideas as they are presented.”

DiNinno also credits business office staff Tammy Good and Barb Kumar for their enthusiastic leadership and support.

“They have been so excited and genuinely committed to supporting our staff, especially with the gift baskets,” she says.

Thanks to a $3,000 wellness grant from Highmark and the Allegheny County School Health Insurance Consortium, the momentum is continuing. As part of the grant, the district launched a new initiative called Fitness Fridays to remind staff their mental and physical health matters, too. During Fitness Fridays, beautiful gift baskets are created for the staff of each school building. The arrangements contain stress balls, pedometers and bottled water to encourage increased physical activity, in addition to fresh fruit and low-fat snack alternatives.  Inspirational messages and literature about general fitness are also included.

The grant meshes well with the district’s student wellness policy and the organization’s commitment to encourage students and staff to make healthy choices. The effort has snowballed.

“The wellness grant helped to keep everyone motivated and acknowledged the importance of wellness for our staff,” DiNinno says. “There is more going on now than ever before, and it’s wonderful to be a part of it.”