Worksite Wellness Project

Worksite Wellness Project

Awardee: Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health Clinics
Location: Norman, OK

About Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health Clinics

The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma (AST) is a federally recognized tribe comprised of the Big Jim and White Turkey Bands with an enrollment of 4,000 members. In 2010, the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health Clinic Employee Physical Activity Policy was developed, which allowed employees three hours per week of paid time off for participation in a health and wellness program at the AST fitness center or another approved fitness facility. 

About the Project

Project Goal:

To increase participation in Moderate Intensity Physical Activity (MIPA) by employees of the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Health Clinics in Little Axe and Shawnee, OK both during and outside work hours through the amendment of the current policy from “exercise for fitness” to “physical activity for health” for broader appeal.

Opportunities Communities Face

  • Change is difficult in any culture but sometimes there is going to be a connection that is all worthwhile – group at tribe saw connection
  • It’s hard for me as an employee promoting health, for the people trying to lose weight the struggle is real
  • 15 min of brisk walking made a world of difference in my afternoon productivity
  • Not a lot of programs in rural areas
  • Used big incentives at the end for people to complete post-survey (monthly drawings)

Adapting the CDC Winnable Battles to Our Nation's Needs 

The Shawnee language was used to name our program, and an Employee Steering Committee was formed to make decisions on recognition ceremonies, incentives, and establishing social support strategies.  Our employees were proud to know that culture was a part of our program because that is an aspect that is lost in our everyday work environment.  The cultural component brought our program full circle by increasing awareness of the people we are serving.

Our Impact on the Community

  • Community Involvement
    • Employee Steering Committee – advised on types of healthy snacks, kick-off event setup, registration activities, incentives and awards decision making
    • Number of days’ employees were physically active increased from 2.5 days to 3.4 days
    • Very positive employee feedback – 91% reported the walk for health program has helped me to become more physically active for health and 86% said they enjoyed the program and would participate in the program again
  • Worksite Wellness Details
    • Implemented a policy update to include an option to take part in two 10-15 minute wellness breaks each work day
    • Kick-Off – registration event in March which included a review of the policy update, issued criteria for participating in this special walking program, completed surveys (pre-questionnaire with 11 questions about basic demographics, intentions towards physical activity, general health, employment level, support), issued pedometers, measured walking strides to help setup pedometers, ended with healthy snacks
  • Future Plans
    • Create more opportunities for employee wellness
    • Wanted to start creating environmental change – leader in tribal health where we practice what we preach

Lessons Learned through Implementing this Program

  • If using any type or piece of equipment, know it inside and out before making public
  • More involved than initially anticipated
  • Have alternatives to sit on Employee Steering Committee who can help promote program (some are not always readily available to meet)
  • It’s not going to be done in just one project but it is a step in the right direction
  • Thinking beyond the walking project towards something more sustainable where we are catering to the health of our own health employees