Caring for plants yields more than beautiful flowers and tasty produce. As they plan, dig, prune and harvest, gardeners are cultivating better physical and mental health. It’s good news that interest in gardening surged during the pandemic. That trend may continue to bloom and bear fruit.

When one envisions a U.S National Park, their thoughts may take them west to Yosemite in California; Yellowstone in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho; or Rocky Mountain in Colorado. Those three are among the most popular national parks in the United States, but one does not need to travel across the country to observe the natural beauty, geological features and unique ecosystems, or to experience the numerous recreational opportunities a national park offers.

Yoga practitioners know that a daily dose of sun can help focus the mind, improve circulation and tone muscles. Now the face can get in on the action, as well, thanks to face yoga, an anti-aging exercise regime for the face.

“The pandemic has worsened stress, as boundaries between home and work have been blurred,” says Dr. Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in Menlo Park, California. “Kids, pets, home life and other distractions now interfere with people’s attempts to work. The lack of social contacts or vacations to punctuate our lives have also added stress during COVID. Working remotely, through video visits and little in-person interaction has also significantly limited the multimodal ways we used to work — when we worked in person. For many, COVID had become Groundhog Day, with each day melting into the next, and this is hard.”

Barbara Bell knows the importance of medical care and regular visits to the doctor, and why they’re vital for her during the pandemic. Bell, a retired teacher, has rheumatoid arthritis and takes medication that suppresses her immune system.

January is National Blood Donor Month, but there is never a bad time to be a blood donor and help save lives. Extreme winter weather in some parts of the country and seasonal illnesses often make it difficult for blood banks to maintain sufficient blood supplies during this time of year, so the American Red Cross urges healthy people to give now and encourage others to do the same. Without more donors, patients will not have the blood they need.

The holiday season is one that – even during the coronavirus pandemic – will be sure to include plenty of calorie-rich goodies.

With winter fast approaching, Troop Ben Gardner is expecting the unexpected, as he says all motorists should when there’s snow and ice on the roadways.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, has called on Congress to ensure dedicated funding and priority attention is given to long-term care residents and caregivers.

While many people across the nation responded to the arrival of COVID-19 by putting on “pandemic pounds” and feeling a sense of isolation and even depression, faculty and staff in the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District (Red Jacket) were meeting a challenge.

Doug Schmidt, Bill Bowe, Diane Neal, Brenda Gowan and Maura Kostraba have been leaders in their school districts’ efforts to improve the health and well-being of their employees, putting in many hours on top of their demanding jobs for the benefit of fellow workers. All five have either stepped down from longtime leadership posts, or are moving aside to let others lead. Some are retiring after decades in education. Doug Schmidt The story of Doug Schmidt, who has served as wellness committee chair at Victor Central School District, is well known — not just within consortium circles, but regionally and nationally. After having a heart attack at age 49, Schmidt embraced a whole food, plant-based diet, took up running and ultimately shed 60 pounds, dropping all of his medications in the process. Schmidt has consciously instilled better physical health through passion and lifestyle changes. He shares his story to encourage others to adopt healthier diets. He did it through Victor’s wellness committee, the consortium and beyond. Schmidt is retiring this fall as an enrichment teacher working with gifted and talented students at Victor. He played a lead role in encouraging the whole foods, plant-based diet that changed his life, pointing to the plant-based diet challenges the FLASHP schools hold throughout the year. He notes those 10-day challenges have moved well beyond the consortium to involve Ontario County and many businesses. “It’s really expanded across the state,” Schmidt says, noting that his wife, Shari, created a Facebook page called Eat Plants Love that promotes a plant-based life. It has more than 4,000 members. Recipes are shared on the page, and members get support, information and more. “Last year we wrote our own cookbook (Eat Plants Love),” Schmidt says. “We’re working on a second cookbook, Eat More Plants Love. We’re doing that for the January challenge.” He wants to see his last plant-based challenge through. While Schmidt is stepping down as an educator, his and Shari’s efforts to promote the plant-based lifestyle will continue — from the warmer confines of their new home in Phoenix, Ariz., where they are moving to be closer to family. “Helping people regain their health is powerful and so rewarding,” Schmidt says. “Just like in being a teacher, it is another way to make a difference.” Diane Neal Diane Neal, a longtime wellness coordinator at the Seneca Falls Central School District, isn’t retiring from her job as the district’s assistant data coordinator. She is stepping down as wellness committee co-chair and the FLASHP’s Wellness is Now (WIN) co-chair position. Neal has been a leader of the wellness committee since its inception in 2014 after being encouraged to do so by now-retired Superintendent Bob McKeveny. She hopes to stay involved as a committee member. Neal says the committee promotes a number of wellness initiatives that run from blood pressure checks to walking challenges, to the annual plant-based diet challenge that has become a wellness effort staple. The committee also annually takes part in women’s heart health initiatives and hydration challenges, hosts “early bird” workouts, yoga classes and more. She says her co-chair work with the FLASHP wellness group, which includes Rick Amundson of Smola Consulting, “was a joy, and we worked behind the scenes to help Rick create meaningful meetings, brainstorm ideas to present, talk about guest presenters and help assure the meetings went smoothly.” One of her goals was to ensure wellness programs at Seneca Falls had broad participation. The committee encouraged involvement by not just teachers, but support staff such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers as well, she says. The task was not easy, she explains, as each group works in different shifts. Neal says she’s learned so much from her committee involvement, including the need to take care of oneself. “Truly, self care has to be a priority in your life, rather than an afterthought,” Neal says, pointing to meditation, breathing, nutrition and exercise as part of that concept. “It has to start with you. Are you whole enough to turn around and put the energy towards others?” Bill Bowe As a physical education teacher in the Canandaigua City School District, heading the district’s wellness efforts was a natural fit for Bill Bowe. Afterall, wellness is pretty much in the job description. “It’s (the wellness chair job) something I had great interest in,” Bowe says. He retired in June after 34 years at Canandaigua, where he also coached baseball and many other sports. “It felt like a no-brainer.” At Canandaigua, says Bowe, the wellness committee enjoyed many accomplishments — from the promotion of biometric screenings, flu shots, telemedicine and Rally Rewards to strong participation in the annual plant-based diet challenge. But Bowe says one of his proudest accomplishments is the installation of fitness centers in each of the district’s buildings. Those fitness centers gave staff access before, during and after school, Bowe, and they are utilized by many staff members, he says. “Seeing people in there on a daily basis is good, knowing that you were a part of that,” he says. The longtime physical education teacher and coach, who served the wellness committee since 2012, believes it’s an effective tool for promoting good health for all Canandaigua staff members. “I think it’s had a huge impact,” says Bowe. “It’s a good feeling when you do get that email that someone lowered their cholesterol and lost weight.” Bowe says the consortium, working with Excellus and Smola Consulting, is not only improving the lives of school employees, but helping to reduce healthcare costs for all of the districts and their workers. Brends Gowan

The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out countless events and altered many more since March.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted an uptick in delivery services as more people are heeding the warning to stay inside to limit the spread of COVID-19.

When it comes to describing his goal for The Lift Project, founder Darren Morton has three words.

The Finger Lakes Area School Health Plan is getting a bit more social — which is to say the consortium that includes 37 educational entities across its namesake region of New York can now be found on both Facebook and Instagram.

After a couple weeks of feeling overwhelmed and even a bit blue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the U.S., staff members at Penn Yan Central School District received some advice on how to feel better, thanks to Blue Zones; or, more specifically, to a four-week Blue Zones challenge.

A positive, can-do attitude can figuratively move mountains. If your idea of a mountain is increasing physical activity, getting fit and maintaining a healthier lifestyle, there is a movement that’s gaining momentum at Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District.

Seniors are part of the vulnerable population, especially during COVID-19 pandemic. Having more communication and time with them is essential, but as social distancing and quarantine are put into place, the future of senior care and seniors has started to shift.

Nick Setta once trained Tyler Jay, a left-handed baseball pitcher who was selected in the first round — sixth overall — of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft by the Minnesota Twins.

For many people, it is a simple routine: wake up, go to work, come home. For the most part, these different aspects of our lives do not tend to cross. We keep our work life in the office or classroom and our personal lives at home with our families.

Women who survive breast cancer can serve as beacons of strength, encouragement and hope. Each story is as unique as the individual who lived it, but many of them share one commonality: It started with a mammogram.

Eating three meals each day has been a staple in our culture since at least the 18th century, some research has shown. By at least the early 19th century, dinner for most people was pushed into the evening, reserved for after work upon returning home for a full meal.

What’s your word for 2020? What do you need? What do you need to get rid of?

At some point in your life, you’ve likely experienced feelings of loneliness. It could be from missing a family member or the company of a favorite pet. Or it may stem from being the new person at work and not knowing your way around the office. It might even originate from an overextension of “me time.” Loneliness may be more present these days during the novel coronavirus outbreak and associated societal response.

The societal response to the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States has led to most people practicing social distancing, and large segments of some states’ populations essentially in social isolation. Spending more time than usual indoors and away from social situations, and the lack of facetime with friends is something many people are struggling with. Time alone without that social outlet is for some people new, uncomfortable and even scary.

CCAC Human Resources in collaboration with the CCAC Wellness Committee held CCAC’s fifth annual Wellness Fair at the South Campus. This year, the fair featured over 30 vendors and attractions to include a Fitness Corner, a Mini-Clinic and a Veterans’ Corner.

IRMC was awarded an ‘A’ in fall 2019 by Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, providing the hospital national distinction for achievements pertaining to protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care.

The Wellness Committee at Honeoye CSD has two new co-coordinators. Jennifer Green, district clerk for the superintendent of schools at Honeoye CSD served as wellness coordinator then took a three-year break. Last September, Green reprised her role and asked Deb Vanderbroek, a teaching assistant, to share the position as a wellness co-coordinator.

New parents want something for their child. Fun toys. A new stroller, maybe. A safe environment. Opportunities. All Sandi Quinlan, a sixth-grade math teacher at Wayland-Cohocton Central School District, wanted for her daughter, Taylor Kirin, was a non-mutated version of the type VII collagen gene.

When fostering the best environment for our children’s futures, a school district has to not only look at what goes on within its walls, but outside of them as well. If families within the community are struggling to make ends meet, then those children will be at a serious detriment. Thanks to a huge philanthropic initiative from Lyons Central School District, the Community Collaboration is doing everything in its power to support those families in need.

Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) is dedicated to providing wellness opportunities to people across 25 different school districts in the area. With a variety of programs serving all ages, BOCES has to cover an extremely wide range of needs and interests. Despite the array of specialized activities, BOCES wanted to provide something relaxing, inexpensive and available to anyone. With that in mind, the wellness meetups around Finger Lakes are the perfect opportunity to enjoy a leisurely stroll with family and friends.

Being mindful about gratitude, affirming there is goodness in the world and acknowledging that it comes from others, can make you feel better, happier and more satisfied. In the fall of 2019, four Finger Lake Area School Health Plan districts initiated activities to help staff recognize their gratitude and find better health and appreciation in their everyday lives. Wayne “Gratitude is a buzzword,” says Monica Bays, wellness coordinator and middle school music teacher at Wayne. “It’s nice to sit down and reflect upon the things you do have instead of focusing on the negative.” To kick off a month dedicated to acknowledging thankfulness, Bays emailed a gratitude challenge in her Health and Wellness newsletter. The challenge provided a gratitude list worksheet where staff members would write down what they were thankful for in their lives. The list included: three things I would not change; one positive thing about my health; four relationships I’m thankful for; four blessings; one thing that makes me smile every day. For the challenge, staff members filled out their gratitude list for the Wellness Committee. As an incentive, the first 30 participants who completed the sheet and returned it received a $10 gift card to Amazon. Bays received 45 completed gratitude lists. “I’ve never had so much participation,” says Bays. “I enjoyed reading the responses and was surprised to see how much of our work culture was reflected in the answers. A lot of people wrote about the students. They also talked about family, relationships, and colleagues.” Clyde-Savannah When Kristen Seyfried, wellness coordinator and a health teacher at the middle and high school, found a thank you made with a pack of Extra gum on Pinterest she knew it was perfect for Clyde-Savannah staff members. The Wellness Committee gave everyone a pack of Extra gum with an attached note — seasonally decorated as a turkey — that read, “I’m EXTRA thankful for you.” “It was a small way to say you’re appreciated. You’re seen,” says Seyfried. “It’s showing people and helping people feel part of the school community. Jobs can sometimes feel thankless. I hoped these notes provided a small boost, especially if they were having a bad day.” A gratitude list worksheet underscored the Extra message and kept thankfulness on the forefront of everyone’s mind. The list was identical to the one Wayne staff members received. “It’s important to go beyond thinking about what you’re grateful for in your life,” says Seyfried. “Writing it down makes it concrete and in front of you. Keeping you focused on the good keeps you grounded and honest with what you have.” The theme of gratitude and appreciation did not end with Thanksgiving. In December, the Wellness Committee arranged for a massage therapist to give staff members 15-minute chair massages to thank everyone for their efforts and contributions to the district. Keshequa At Keshequa, Todd Isaman, wellness coordinator and physical education teacher, emphasized the idea of mindfulness with gratitude. “It’s about identifying what’s going on in your life and how you react to it,” says Isaman. “When you’re thankful you feel better inside and you can express that in small actions.” Mindfulness and gratitude came together in November for a 10-day challenge Isaman arranged called Planks and Expothanks. Staff members were given 10 different ways to do a plank and were challenged to complete one each day. Doing so acknowledged their physical health going into a traditionally indulgent season. The Expothanks portion of the challenge came from Isaman, whose daughter surprised him with a message written on his bathroom mirror with a dry-erase Expo marker. The challenge asked staff members to do something similar for their friends and family members. “The idea is for you to sneak in and write something nice,” says Isaman. “We did not track this or offer any incentives. We wanted people to show gratitude with no expectations of getting anything back.” Larene Long, teacher assistant at Keshequa Intermediate School, didn’t need a challenge to do something nice without expecting reciprocation. For November, she surprised the faculty with a “Fill Your Bucket” board. Colleagues wrote short, anonymous notes stating what they appreciated about that person and left it in that person’s “bucket,” which was a cup stapled to the wall. “Larene totally did this on her own,” says Isaman. “It’s another example of how people at Keshequa understand that gratitude is important.” Red Jacket Each month, wellness coordinators in Red Jacket receive a “Happiness Calendar” from the Greater Good Science Center. Wellness Coordinator and health and family consumer science teacher Tracey Snieszko decided to change it up a little. Combining the Happiness Calendar with other calendar ideas she found online, she created a Gratitude Calendar challenge. The Gratitude Calendar offered various stress reduction and mindfulness activities and ran from Nov. 12 through Dec. 13. Activity examples included sitting in silence for five minutes, drinking water, tidying up your workspace, finding a new place to visit, and doing something nice for someone. Participants checked off each day they completed the activity and then turned in their calendars to the Wellness Committee. If the calendar was 75 % complete, they earned a $10 Wegmans gift card. “Hopefully, they also earned less stress in their lives,” says Snieszko. For Snieszko doing nice things for others, being mindful, and taking care of your physical and mental health all support the idea of gratitude. “You can be thankful for what you have and for others,” says Snieszko. “Be thankful for your body. Giving it what it needs is a way of telling it, ‘thank you and please continue to work for me.’” Snieszko’s personal favorite was to sit peacefully for five minutes without technology or music. It gave her the opportunity to connect to her gratitude. Regarding the challenge, she says participation was good and the committee definitely wants to do something similar next year.

Corporate Wellness at Indiana Regional Medical Center is designed to assist local businesses in improving the health of their employees. In 2019, IRMC Corporate Wellness team conducted wellness-related activities for nine different companies and completed health screenings or health services for fifteen businesses. Industries supported by IRMC’s Corporate Wellness team include energy, manufacturing, healthcare, education and finance.