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Georgia Cities Help Employees, Residents Make Healthy Choices

March 10, 2014
Through Zumba and other classes offered by Douglas-Coffee County Parks & Recreation Department the Douglas community is becoming more physically fit.

Cities across Georgia are leading employees and residents on a journey towards good health. The cities of Douglas, Decatur and McDonough are all examples of how cities can help their employees and their residents lead of life where wellness is a priority.
In Douglas, community agencies are teaming together to get the community more involved and focused on living a more healthy lifestyle by offering various programs on different levels of fitness.
Through Zumba, water aerobics and many other classes offered by the Douglas- Coffee County Parks & Recreation Department and Coffee Regional Medical Center’s Fitness Center, the community is becoming more physically fit. Commit 2B Fit walks are offered each month at no charge to community participants. Activities are designed for the young, as early as Pre-K, to senior citizens.
“In Douglas, fitness is a focus whether it is with the public or with our employees,” said City Manager Terrell Jacobs. “The city of Douglas’ Employee Wellness Program is entering its fifth year and is focused on motivating employees to become more health conscience at work and at home. Through this healthy incentive program, employees are able to earn rewards for setting and meeting monthly and yearly goals through the Wellness Program that is offered through Healthy Merits. Employees and their spouses also can attend free educational learning sessions and participate in free fitness classes.”
Decatur City Commissioner Patti Garrett shows off her EatWell IndieCatur recipe book.
The Decatur Active Living Board of Directors’ nutrition subcommittee was looking for ways to bring attention to healthy eating and good nutrition in a far reaching way.

“We wanted a way to include everyone from singles to families and children to seniors,” said Sally Brozek, Decatur Active Living Board member and head of the nutrition subcommittee. “We also wanted to take advantage of Decatur’s restaurant scene—its popularity, vibrancy and the fact that many travel from outside of Decatur to eat in our restaurants.”
The subcommittee looked to the city’s “Keep It IndieCatur” shop-local campaign and logo for inspiration and decided to employ an “EatWell IndieCatur!” campaign. As part of the campaign, Decatur diners who ate healthy meals at participating restaurants three times during the month of February received a free cook book that included healthy recipes from Decatur chefs.
“We thought that an incentive might push people to participate and having recipes from their favorite Decatur chefs would appeal to many a diner,” Brozek explained. “The chefs, too, seemed to like the idea and chose some of their popular items to include in the collection. We asked each chef to provide two recipes. It has been great seeing the restaurants get excited about the campaign. They appreciate all the work the nutrition subcommittee has done to provide tips on promoting the campaign and their restaurant through social media as well as ideas to make it a success for them.”
According to McDonough Human Resource Director Carla Tuck, “The city of McDonough has been wellness-minded since 2009 when Mayor Billy Copeland initiated monthly wellness opportunities to employees and residents.” In 2013, the city created its official wellness committee consisting of employees from various departments. In June of 2013 the committee initiated a “Weight Loss for Wellness Challenge.” Twenty employees participated and survived six months of bi-weekly weigh-ins. The winner lost 56 pounds and won $500.
“The program was so successful that another Weight Loss for Wellness Challenge began in January 2014 with 21 participants,” Tuck said. Throughout the challenge the committee schedules nutritional experts to speak at meetings, as well as provide participants the opportunity to meet one on one with the nutritionist. The committee also offers incentives for reaching certain milestones. For example, participants receive a $20 gift card for every 20 pounds lost. There is also prize weigh-ins throughout the program with participants vying for $100 for highest percent of body weight lost and $50 for male and female most weight lost in pounds.
The Wellness Committee also launched a “Tobacco Cessation for Wellness” program in the fall of 2013. Participants receive written tips, websites and phone apps to assist them. The program has 13 participants and takes a similar approach as the weight loss program by providing incentives for reaching certain milestones. The committee will reimburse participants up to $150 for tobacco cessation products and doctor’s visits. The participants all receive gift cards and certificates for reaching milestones at four weeks, three months and six months of being tobacco free.
“The committee is very excited about the commitment the participants are making to quit using tobacco,” Tuck said. “Two of the participants, J. R. McMahan and Jordan Fuhrman, have been tobacco-free for four months now.”
Other Wellness Committee initiatives include an annual health fair, free after hour fitness classes and lunch and learn meetings on various health and wellness topics.