HEAL SPotlight: the City of New Carrollton, maryland
Since joining the HEAL Campaign in 2014, the City of New Carrollton has prioritized employee health and wellness through ongoing support from the City’s Human Resources Coordinator, Alayna Rowlett. Ms. Rowlett has encouraged healthier behavior among City staff as a means of modeling healthy practices for the residents and community of New Carrollton.
Ever year Ms. Rowlett helps organize an annual Wellness Fair where the City offers municipal employees access to wellness resources and health screenings. Rowlett sees the Fair as a pivotal influencer of healthier behavior change among staff and the families and friends they influence. “Everyone is really thinking about [health] and making better choices. I honestly think it's spurred through the Wellness Fair. They’re excited to come back to the Fair the next year and see their numbers in comparison to last year,” said Ms. Rowlett.
Ms. Rowlett credits the Wellness Fair as a means of influencing employee heath throughout the year, not just at the annual event. This was demonstrated by the launch of the Healthy Entertaining Nutritional Standards Guide and Healthy Vending Initiative, a project that was implemented through the support of a $500 HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign Mini-Grant the City was awarded in 2015. The Guide includes a complete list of nutritional standards, healthy food vendors, and a nutritional checklist that staff use when hosting all events for employees and residents. Employees also received a nutritional training session by a Registered Dietitian. The new guidelines and practices were implemented at a Wellness Luncheon where staff offered positive feedback through a staff survey following the lunch. In further efforts to implement these practices, City has also committed to providing healthier vending options in municipal buildings. Noting the success of this project, Ms. Rowlett commented, “We’re about to transition to a completely healthy vending machine… That was part of the HEAL project, that we would implement healthy vending. We made sure that 50 percent of the options were nutritious and recently we’ve decided to move towards 100 percent.”
The City was awarded Bronze HEAL recognition at the 2017 Maryland Municipal League conference for successfully meeting the City’s resolution goal to provide healthier vending standards to its workforce. These changes are part of the city’s steady progress towards implementing healthier behavior change throughout the workforce and the community. “Every year we grow internally with our wellness programs… When I started here four and half years ago, that wasn’t something anyone was thinking about…,” commented Ms. Rowlett. “I tried to transition people into the buy in process. Now, people have bought in and they don’t even know it.”