Resting somewhere in the Mount Morris Central School District administrative office is a homemade trophy that Todd Isaman has only seen in a photograph.
“From what I remember it was a very beautiful trophy,” says Isaman, a physical education teacher and the wellness coordinator at the nearby Keshequa Central School District. “I’m looking forward to getting an up-close look and hoisting that trophy next month.”
The shiny object that Isaman covets is the top prize in a Step Challenge between faculty at Mount Morris and Keshequa. The fitness competition between the two friendly rival school districts was held for the first time in 2016, and Mount Morris wound up averaging more steps per staff member than Keshequa, Isaman says.
“They beat us last time,” he says. “We're going to try our best, and hopefully this is our year.”
A total of 58 staff members at Keshequa are participating in the challenge this year, and ages range from roughly 22 to 65. Some in the competition could be classified as workout warriors.
As the wellness coordinator at the school, Isaman is also Keshequa’s de facto step challenge coach. With that title he is in charge of motivating his team and does so by sending out weekly emails encouraging the staff to get their steps in.
“I like to always keep them thinking about their health and what they can do to improve it,” he says. “All of us make good and bad healthy choices every day. The emails don't make them change, but it makes them think about their health and wellness... that's a great place to start. I like to send a note in the school mail or email congratulating someone on a great week. In the last two weeks we had someone get a lot more steps than they normally do, so I sent them a quick email recognizing that effort. They really seem to appreciate it.”
In addition to vying for the traveling trophy, Isaman says Keshequa employees are also competing for gift cards to Amazon and Wegmans. Prizes for categories including “most steps” and “biggest increase in steps” are awarded weekly.
“The main goal for everyone should be to just get healthier — and it is — but the trophy and gift cards are a nice incentive.”
The six-week step challenge began in late September and runs through the first week of November.
Seth Clearman believes he has the perfect activity for the faculty at Honeoye Central School District following a morning and afternoon spent inside at the district’s Superintendent Conference.
Clearman, who serves as Honeoye’s director of transportation and wellness coordinator, organized the district’s annual Canoe and Hiking Trip held at Canadice Lake on Oct. 27. The plan for this year’s event was to split the group in half, with one group heading out in a canoe while the other group takes a hike. Approximately two miles out they will then switch activities, with the hikers hopping in the canoe and those in the canoe hiking back.
“It’s a good way to get people outside after a day spent sitting down indoors,” Clearman says.
The hope was that 50 Honeoye staffers would participate in the event, which celebrated its third anniversary in 2017. Unlike the previous two years, the trip is not during a school day so those district employees who normally have after-school commitments like certain teachers or bus drivers should be able to attend.
“We start at 3:30 p.m.,” Clearman says. “On a normal school day elementary teachers are still finishing up for the day and bus drivers are on their routes, so scheduling it after our Superintendent Conference allows anybody that wants to participate to be able to come on out.”
One does not need to be a skilled canoer or have even ever been out on the water to join in on the fun. The district has partnered with the South Lima-based Pack, Paddle, Ski, who will have instructors present to teach attendees how to paddle and steer the lightweight boat. Life jackets will also be worn by all in attendance.
“Pack, Paddle, Ski is one of the most trusted names in our area and they will bring two instructors to explain the dos and don’ts of canoeing,” Clearman says. “We have people of all abilities signed up. A lot of people are looking forward to it.”
Those that do participate will be doing so on a lake that is ideal for canoeing, according to Clearman. Located about 30 miles south of Rochester, Canadice Lake prohibits speed boats and jet skis and houses are not permitted on the shore.
“Nobody lives on the lake and there is no boat traffic,” he says. “It’s the perfect spot for canoers and kayakers. We’re looking forward to this day. It should be a lot of fun.”
The end of the school year gift the Wellness Committee at Manchester-Shortsville Central School District gave to faculty wasn’t very traditional, but it certainly was useful.
With an influx of Lyme disease cases the past year in New York, the Wellness Committee at Manchester-Shortsville presented the district’s 150 staff and faculty members with a gift basket containing bottles of insect repellent and sunscreen this past June. Also inside the gift basket was a pamphlet from the New York State Department of Health on preventing Lyme disease and other diseases carried by ticks.
“The gift baskets were a big hit,” says Tammy LaBarr, the director for the Wellness Committee at Manchester-Shortsville Central School District. “A lot of teachers came back to school and thanked (the Wellness Committee). They said it was very useful.”
The idea for the end-of-year gift baskets essentially came from the pamphlets, which were sent home with each student in the K-12 district, LaBarr says. In the pamphlet is a section titled “Dress to Repel,” which encourages people to use repellent to protect against and prevent Lyme disease.
“The teachers were reading the pamphlets before giving them to their students and they mentioned there was a lot of good information in them,” LaBarr says. “(The Wellness Committee) decided we should give the pamphlets to staff, as well, and then we decided on the insect repellent and sunscreen.”
As another healthy gift, during the last week of school the Wellness Committee purchases fruit baskets for the faculty lounge and bus garage instead of the typical high-fat and high-caloric treats like cakes and pies, LaBarr says.
“Our goal as the Wellness Committee is to educate staff and keep healthy practices in place,” LaBarr says of offering the fruit baskets. “It’s important to have healthy alternatives in place.”
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always need to involve body-numbing planks and abdominal exercises that will have you struggling to get out of bed the next morning.
As the faculty at Lyons Central School District have quickly learned, a nice 15-minute massage can be just the trick to reduce stress, pain and muscle tension and feel great about yourself. For the past two years, a massage therapist has come to the district on a monthly basis, and all staff have the option to receive a massage for half price with the district covering the balance.
At a cost of just $6 for faculty, the massages have become very popular, according to Robin Cinelli, co-chairman of the Lyons Central School District Wellness Committee.
“A lot of the staff take advantage of this program,” Cinelli says of the monthly massages. “It’s a great price and you feel like new afterward.”
The district is also covering part of the cost for those faculty members who want to enroll in the C-Fit Weight Loss Challenge at the nearby Refuel Group Fitness Facility. The seven-week program challenges attendees to eat better, move more and take steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
Along with the weekly workout class, C-Fitters also receive a clean eating guide and shopping list and have the option of attending educational meetings to discuss diet tips and fitness plans.
Another healthy initiative held by the district was offering free flu shots at its open house earlier this month. Approximately 50 children and adults received flu shots, which were administered by employees from the Wayne County Public Health Department.
“It’s a great program and the price is just right,” Cinelli says.
It has 5K in its title, but when three Finger Lakes school districts got together for the annual Tri-School Staff 5K there is much more to the event than just a 3.1-mile walk/run.
“One of the goals of the event is certainly the exercise aspect but it’s also about the camaraderie of being out there with your co-workers,” says Kristy Smith, school nurse and wellness coordinator at Red Creek Central School District. “(Staff from) North-Rose Wolcott and Clyde-Savannah join us for the event. It’s a nice way to get a workout in and then spend the afternoon with your colleagues.”
The second annual event, which took place on the Red Creek cross country course Friday, October 20, also benefits area food pantries and charities, Smith says. Participants from Red Creek and Clyde-Savannah pay a $15 entrance fee that goes back into the community, while North-Rose Wolcott employees donate canned goods in order to participate. Red Creek was able to donate around $170 to three area non-profits, Smith says.
To deviate from the normal 5K, Smith said various “obstacles” are added along the course. The obstacles aren’t strenuous (there’s no pool of ice or live wires contestants must traverse through) but rather fun like hula hooping, weaving through hay bales and tossing rubber chickens.
“It’s not your typical 5K,” Smith says.
In 2016, approximately 80 teachers and staff from the three districts participated in the race, Smith says. Red Creek was declared the “winner” of the non-competitive race because with 40 entrants it had the most participants. Numbers were a little lower this year but Smith still expected a great event, which, she said, is only enhanced thanks to participation from the Red Creek National Honors Society and Parent Teachers Association.
“The event is a lot of fun,” Smith says. “We look forward to it.”