There’s no better way to kick off the school year than with a healthy helping of activities to lift the spirits and get re-acclimated. The wellness team at Marcus Whitman Central School District pulled out all the stops for this year’s opening conference day, with at least 10 different activities worth diving into. Along with that stellar opening act, the wellness committee has continued offering up a variety of opportunities throughout the year.

As we approached the beginning of this academic year, Karen Lahue and the wellness team at Marcus Whitman worked hard to prepare for the year ahead of them. In order to gauge interest, staff at each building were given a survey of possible wellness activities they would be interested in. Staff were also asked to list the most common reasons that stop them from participating, which for the most part came down to time management. With the data they collected, Lahue wrote up their Healthy Happenings and presented the plans to new Superintendent, Dr. Christopher Brown. Lahue says Brown was the head of wellness in his last district, and he was even blown away by what the Marcus Whitman team had in store.

“Wellness is such an important part of being a responsible employer these days in my opinion,” says Brown. “We are very fortunate to have such dedicated people who work with our employees to provide wellness opportunities that are comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.”

With that survey data in mind, Brown allotted a block of time during conference day for the wellness event. As opening day approached, Lahue and her team gathered all of their resources for the main attraction. On a beautiful day in September, staff at Marcus Whitman were treated to an array of interesting activities.

For those looking to get the blood pumping, there were a handful of physical activities going on. Walking groups enjoyed the late summer sun while increasing their steps on the outdoor track, and others broke a sweat in the open weight room. The fan favorite staff volleyball match made its return as well, with more intense games and fiery competition. As a cooldown, Annie Schliffer from the Rochester Folk Art Guild led a tranquil yoga session. Yoga was popular enough amongst staff that the yoga group returned for a four week session in November.

If you weren’t looking to get too physical there were plenty of other interesting events worth checking out. Erin Cunningham, a professional photographer in the Finger Lakes, led a small workshop on essential oils and how to stay healthy in the workplace. The event was a “make and take,” so participants were able to take some of the oils home with them.

Easily the most popular event of the day was the chair massage. The massages ran all day and were booked the entire time. Safe to say everyone needed some stress-knots relieved before the school year got rolling.

With over 70% of staff participating, the opening day wellness initiative passed with flying colors. Karen Lahue praised her team for being able to manage the different buildings effectively and make this event happen. But this was just the appetizer, as the Marcus Whitman wellness team has kept a steady pace of initiatives since opening day.

Each month, Lahue has focused on different areas of wellness and offered events or challenges accordingly. October was Operation Hydration. November got people planking and thanking during Planksgiving. Things got crafty in December with holiday signs and wreath making, and this month was the Good Life challenge from Doug and Shari Schmidt.

This is the third year running the popular plant-based diet challenge and those who signed up received the Schmidt’s new cookbook. Aside from these larger events, staff also took advantage of biometric screenings and flu shots in the fall.

With the holiday season over, Marcus Whitman can look forward to even more in 2020. The next conference day is March 13 and Lahue is looking to make it a similar extravaganza to the opening day. Spring kicks things off with a new walking challenge in April and the Whitman Golf Open makes a return in May. Come June, Wellness on Water will get everyone back out on Canandaigua Lake for some kayaking and paddle boarding.

The wellness team is already filling up the calendar at Marcus Whitman. The programs offered are diverse, holistic and engaging for anyone willing to make the time. Look forward to the next conference day, and keep your eyes peeled for the other wellness activities set throughout the year.