The Olentangy Local School District’s wellness program will start its third year, continuing its goal to improve the overall health of its employees.

The program is a partnership between the school district and Mount Carmel Health System and started in 2014, according to Amanda Spring, a health coach for the program.

“Olentangy leaders wanted to increase the well-­being and productivity of employees by looking at ways to enhance all aspects of health,” she said. “Mount Carmel created the Live Well Employee Wellness Program specifically for OLSD.”

The partnership offered daily, on-site access to health coach/exercise physiologists; bio-metric health screenings and flu shots; mammography screenings; and MC Fitness facility employee discounts.

“Most of the challenges we have come from misconceptions people have regarding the purpose of the wellness program,” Spring said. “Once they speak with our health coach and discover what the program has to offer them at no cost, they usually decide that they’d like to participate.”

Spring said several employees have emailed her throughout the year letting her know that the wellness program has helped them lose weight, lower their blood pressure and be more active overall.

During the 2015-16 school year, about 72 percent of the district participated in at least one component of the program aside from health screenings — a 20 percent increase from the previous year. The program exceeded its screening goal of 55 percent at 62, Spring said.

Some of the school district’s bio-metrics were better than the national average, including the district’s overweight/obese rate at 9.9 percent; diabetes at 15.6 percent; and smoke/tobacco at 6.2 percent.

On the flip side, the district’s stress levels were 7.7 percent higher then the national average, but a 4.5 percent improvement from the previous year. Improving stress levels is among the program’s goals for the upcoming school year, Spring said. The program will introduce a new point-based rewards system in its third year to encourage more preventive maintenance visits and self-directed physical activity.

By Brandon Klein

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Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.