Living Well in Jefferson Parish

The Chamber encourages healthy living with Tour de Jefferson and newly implemented LiveWell Jefferson program

In 2017, the Jefferson Chamber formed a new health initiative, LiveWell Jefferson, which focuses on creating and cultivating a culture of health and wellness among both residents and business communities in the area.

Donna Austin of Peoples Health, who serves as the Health & Wellness Committee Chair for the Jefferson Chamber, shared that the campaign’s goals are to help its members understand the value of encouraging healthier lifestyles for employees. The campaign aims to provide information on employee wellness programs and to promote health and wellness not just in the office, but also in the community at large.
In this capacity, Austin works with the Chamber staff and other committee members to develop ideas to make this initiative gain momentum.

“To date, we have implemented several initiatives, including (but not limited to) a Healthy Business Award and a LiveWell Festival to accompany the yearly Tour de Jefferson event,” said Austin. She also noted that they have provided resources for businesses related to the American Heart Association, smoking cessation programs and designated “Well Spots.”

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Christy Marino, Advocacy and Special Programs Manager for the Jefferson Chamber, said that LiveWell Jefferson began as a reaction to Jefferson Parish’s consistently low health rankings.

Jefferson Parish is currently ranked 12th in health and wellness out of the state’s 64 parishes, and Marino and her colleagues see great room for improvement.

“With the LiveWell Jefferson initiative, we can shine a light on companies that support cultures of health and wellness in the parish. We also try to encourage businesses to emphasize health and wellness in their daily practices,” said Marino.

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Marino noted that businesses and individual employees can take small steps, such as offering healthy options in the snack and break room and keeping employees hydrated with water and tea instead of sugary sodas. “Businesses can even improve the health of their employees by offering intelligently designed and well-lit spaces,” said Marino.

Health promotion programs have also been shown in some cases to reduce sick leave by nearly 25 percent. Marino also noted that medical costs decrease by an average of $3.27 per employee and absenteeism costs decrease by about $2.73 per dollar when invested in wellness programs.

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Within its LiveWell Jefferson initiative, the Jefferson Chamber has also created two opportunities for companies to showcase how they are creating a healthier workforce.

“LiveWell Champions” is a designation through the Jefferson Chamber that recognizes companies that foster a workplace focused on health and wellness. All businesses in Jefferson Parish are eligible. In order to receive the designation of a LiveWell Champion, companies must first become a Level 3 Well-Ahead Well Spot and reach certain benchmarks based on 5 pillars of health: nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation, work-life integration and environment.

Additionally, the Chamber highlights and celebrates members that are actively engaged in healthy living by offering LiveWell Healthy Business Awards. In order to be eligible for a LiveWell Healthy Business Award, the business must be a member of the Jefferson Chamber. Winners will be recognized at the Chamber’s Business Awards Luncheon in the Spring of 2018.

Though this initiative is fairly new, it is certainly making great strides and has a lot of momentum behind it. Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee Sheng has signed on as spokesperson of the campaign.

Another way that the initiative gained traction was by collaborating with the Tour de Jefferson, the largest community event organized by the Jefferson Chamber. Since its inception in 2006, Tour de Jefferson has become one of the premier cycling events in the area, drawing in riders of all ages from around the country.

2017 was the first year the event took place on the East Bank at Lafreniere Park. Participants had the option to cycle on a 42, 28 or 13-mile route, and they were briefed on safety and courtesy along the road. In addition to cycling, attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a Fun Run & Walk on Lafreniere Park’s walking trail. Prior to the event, volunteers and Chamber members wrote down healthy, inspirational tips that participants were able to view along the walking trail.

The event began early in the morning, with participants arriving to receive informational packets, favor bags with drink and food tickets, snacks, water and electrolytes.

Following the race, the inaugural LiveWell Fest took place, which offered yoga classes, more group fitness events, consultations with wellness experts, a kids’ zone with games and a LiveWell eatery and Jefferson Marketplace — which both offered healthy post-run meal and drink options.

Overall, combining the two events have bolstered each other and strengthened the Jefferson Chamber’s commitment to health, fitness and wellness for the workplace and in homes across the parish. With an overarching goal to improve quality of life, it’s only the beginning of an improvement that will be sure to make a mark for the upcoming generations of citizens and workers.

The Tour de Jefferson and LiveWell Fest will again take place on the East Bank at Lafreniere Park on Sept. 30, 2018. More information about Tour de Jefferson, the Fun Run & Walk and LiveWell Fest is available at www.tourdejefferson.org.

More information on becoming a “LiveWell Champion” and the LiveWell Healthy Business Award can be found at www.livewelljefferson.org.


 

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