EmPoWER Somerset gets staff moving at Piscataway Vo-Tech
Staff members on the Piscataway Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools are getting fit while they compete for tasty prizes in a program sponsored by EmPoWER Somerset, which administers state Coordinated School Health Grants for Somerset and Middlesex Counties.
As part of the Staff Step Up Challenge, 87 percent of the faculty and staff -- a total of 75 teachers and secretaries -- have volunteered to wear pedometers to measure their steps each day. The competitors have been divided into five teams, each one headed by a physical education teacher.
At the end of each month, staff members stop by the school nurse's office to log the miles they have registered. The results are tabulated every other month, and the winning team is awarded a prize. So far the prizes have included omelets made to order and delivered to the winners, and free healthy lunches.
Assistant Principal Michael Cappiello, who is coordinating for the school, said team totals have ranged between 150 and 650 miles per month.
"It's all voluntary," he said. "If you visit the school, you'll see a lot of teachers in the hallways with pedometers on their waistbands."
The effort makes the teachers aware of how much - or how little - they walk each day, Cappiello explained. They can continue to log miles at home while exercising or walking the dog, he said..
"Implementing an effective staff wellness initiative benefits the school community in many ways," said Kristen Schiro, director of health and wellness for EmPoWER Somerset. "It promotes better health, improved morale and decreased absenteeism among staff.
"By focusing on improving their own health, school staff serve as positive role models for the students, which increases the school's commitment to creating a healthy environment for students to learn and thrive," she added. "We are thrilled at the progress that Piscataway Vo-Tech has made in their dedication to health."
Funding for the program is from a federal Maternal and Child Health Block Grant administered through the New Jersey Department of Health's Child and Adolescent Health Program.
Contact: Kristen Schiro, Director of Health and Wellness, EmPoWER Somerset, (908) 722-4900