“Ad astra per aspera” is the state motto of Kansas, which translates to “to the stars through difficulties” – a sentiment that has never felt more true than it does today. It emphasizes our values and optimism that, even when faced with the most difficult hardships, we come together as a state and keep our sights set on what’s important. We launched our #AdAstraStrong campaign to highlight “stars” throughout Kansas who are going above and beyond to give back to their community. Stay tuned for more star stories and stay #AdAstraStrong.
We are excited to recognize our next community star, the Leoti School District. We talked with Bridgette Carpenter, a teacher at the Leoti School District, to learn more about its wellness program.
In 2016, the Leoti School District launched a wellness program for its faculty and staff after receiving grant money from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) Pathways to a Healthy Kansas program. The Pathways initiative is the largest community grant program ever funded by BCBSKS. The goal of the program is to give communities the tools they need to improve active living, healthy eating, tobacco prevention and more.
The Leoti School District’s wellness program aims to promote healthy habits and behaviors among its employees. To kickstart the program, the school district created a wellness committee that meets once a month to decide what the new monthly fitness challenge for the staff will be and determine any other wellness priorities.
One of the first initiatives of the program was to purchase Fitbits for each employee using the grant money from the Pathways program. By giving each employee Fitbits, the school district has been able to implement weekly step challenges. If an employee reaches the weekly goal, he or she is given a coupon for money to spend in the community. The Fitbits have also allowed the school district to continue these challenges during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the Fitbits, each school in the district has an elliptical machine for staff to utilize during any free time they may have before or after school. Each school also provides healthy yogurt parfaits at staff in-services and offers free biometric screenings for each staff member.
“Our goal is to create a work culture where personal wellness is contagious,” Carpenter said. “To do that, we try to make attainable fitness goals for the staff and then reward them for their hard work and accomplishments. We are always looking for and open to new, creative ideas and can’t wait to see the progress we achieve this school year.”