Amazing Challenge offers healthy competition

Amazing Challenge offers healthy competition

CHAMPAIGN — Workplace wellness programs may make for healthier employees, and now there's a program available free that incorporates friendly competition and teamwork.

Employers can sign up for the Amazing Challenge — delivered right to their employees through a wellness portal and weekly emails — courtesy of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the federal We Choose Health initiative.

The Amazing Challenge is a four-month challenge starting today in which individuals and teams of up to 10 employees can complete and record activities each month focused on exercise, nutrition and stress management.

It's all designed to get people thinking about their daily activities and focusing on making small, incremental changes, says Brandon Meline, director of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District's maternal and child health division.

"It's a nice tool, that you don't have to have somebody in your agency thinking up the challenges," he said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is offering the Amazing Challenge statewide as part of its We Choose Health community transformation program initiative, department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

Employers can participate by contacting the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District to sign up, forming teams and even setting up competitions within their own workplaces if they want to, Meline said.

There is a $6-per-employee participation fee, but the local health district will cover the fee for each participant through part of its We Choose Health grant funding, he said.

The wellness portal helps participants track such things as their activities, goals, meal planning and how many calories they eat, and the weekly emails are designed to help them stay motivated.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is forming teams among its own employees who want to participate, and district Administrator Julie Pryde said she'll be among them.

"I'm just excited to be getting a little kick in the butt," she said.

Meline said a handful of other employers have indicated an interest in the challenge so far, among them Frasca International.

This will be an optional and informal activity for employees at Frasca International, a company that has already been involved in such wellness activities as walking and a "biggest loser" competition among its 200 employees, said Kate Walls, Frasca International's human resources representative.

About 15 people participated in Frasca's biggest loser challenge last fall, she said.

"Our top person lost 66 pounds," she added.

Employers looking for more information or to sign up: Send an email to Tara McCauley at the public health district at tmccauley@c-uphd.org.

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