SIKESTON - Being healthy has any number of benefits, including feeling good, thinking more clearly and performing tasks better.
And when your career involves shaping tomorrow's leaders, these advantages are crucial which is why the R-6 School District has started a Wellness Program. The idea is to make the entire SPS staff be the best it can be both mentally and physically so in return the educators can help their students do their best.
"Our country is beginning to see a great amount of obesity," said Nikki Vaught, the new health services coordinator for SPS . "Obesity can also lead to other health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, heart attacks and strokes. We are seeing this in our school and community. Our goal as the health staff of Sikeston Public Schools is to promote healthy lives and living and as the coordinator I feel that it is my duty to help other staff members be as healthy as they can."
About 78-80 staff members are participating in the Wellness Program which includes watching what they eat. Staff members pay $1 a week and weigh in, in front of the building nurse on Fridays, beginning today.
At the end of the 10-week program, the individual who loses the biggest percent of weight wins half of the money that has been put in. The other half will be awarded to the person who has a weight loss each week.
"We had to go to percent instead of amount because of some individuals were already close to their appropriate body weight but wanted to participate," Vaught explained.
The school nurse at each school is responsible for that building's staff and will help by distributing weekly recipes to those involved.
But as Vaught was quick to point out, diet is most productive when combined with exercise. Staff members will be encouraged to walk during their lunch, part of their plan time or before or after school.
"Myself, as many others, always say we are going to go on a diet but when that donut is at the staff meeting or it is someone's birthday we always say 'there's tomorrow.' This is why we felt that a diet with exercise plan would help to get us all on the right track," said Vaught, who has worked as a nurse for the school district since 1990.
"The Middle School or High School is a perfect place to walk in bad weather. Hopefully what stress we have from work or home can be relieved by walking or doing some type of exercise. Tom Williams, the High School principal, is a member of the diet program and said he has not been making time in his schedule to exercise or lift weights and can tell a difference in his energy level as well as weight and stress level."
Vaught pointed out that not only the staff will benefit from being healthy, but the young people they teach every day.
"We're hoping that if people lose weight and start exercising more they'll be more healthy and there won't be as many absentees among the teachers," explained Vaught, who also invited Board of Education staff to participate. "They'll also have more energy to deal with the students. We feel that a healthy employee will perform their job better, while increasing their self-esteem. They are a happier individual. Statistics prove that people who are within an appropriate weight have more energy and more incentive to do their work."
Vaught said the Wellness Program will also involve giving literature on health issues for that particular month to the staff. Pamphlets on breast cancer and self breast exam will be given to each staff member this month.
"This also includes the men as the rise in breast cancer has increased due to obesity," she said. "We hope to have speakers on different issues and to promote wellness visits to their family doctors. We have had several staff diagnosed with cancer, some have passed on, and we want to honor their lives by promoting healthy living and yearly exams for prevention of any future cases."