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Staff ‘wellness’ fair draws crowd

Faculty and staff sample foods and learn about healthy nutrition at one of the stations at Wednesday's Wellness Fair, part of BeWell's effort at campuswide wellness. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photographer)

Part of a push toward “wellness” for Stanford faculty and staff that often goes unseen by students, Wednesday’s Wellness Fair at the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation drew hundreds of staff members as well as a few students.

According to Eric Stein, a member of the BeWell team and a senior associate athletic director, the goal of the event was simple: “to create a healthier Stanford.”

The main part of the fair was held on the Arrillaga Center’s basketball courts, where numerous health and wellness organizations had set up booths.

The stations focused on physical health, with BeWell volunteers leading yoga classes, rock climbing and other physical activities.

“BeWell @ Stanford has chosen to focus on three main pillars: get active, eat better and unwind,” wrote Jennifer Sexton, a member of the BeWell team and the coordinator of fitness and wellness programs, in an e-mail to The Daily. “We feel that these three areas play a major role in people’s lives.”

Stanford Dining also set up a demonstration area along the wall, where three of its chefs served gazpacho and handed out recipes. Nearby, several nutritionists lined up to answer questions about nutrition and healthy eating.

Other health organizations were also in attendance, including Kaiser Permanente and the American Cancer Society. Representatives from Stanford’s Blood Center were also on hand to take blood donations and sign up participants to become bone marrow donors.

Other activities included 100-pin Wii bowling and free massages.

Free health screenings, including tests for osteoporosis and skin checkups, were also a big attraction, drawing long lines of participants waiting to be tested.

“Our focus is really on promoting action, so there were many screenings and tests available for [faculty and staff] to take advantage of today,” Sexton said. “We encourage faculty and staff to take responsibility for their health by gathering information, creating a plan of action [and] engaging their health providers and resources on campus to put the plan into action.”

For Xuhuai Ji, a staff research associate at the School of Medicine’s Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, those services were the main reason for going to the fair.

“I’ve been having some pain in my shoulder, so I wanted to get one of the free massages,” he said.

Sukhdev Manman, a trades and crafts supervisor at Buildings and Grounds Management, also said the free services were significant in getting people to attend.

“You want to find out a little bit more about your health through all the free testing that they give,” he said. “It’s important to raise awareness about your health, how important it is to maintain it.”

Stein said the fair was part of a yearlong BeWell program aimed at University employees. He also said that the Wellness Fair played into Stanford’s employee incentive program aimed at increasing “wellness,” a central component of which is “knowing your numbers” to help in creating an effective fitness plan.

The costs of putting on the Wellness Fair came from Stanford’s fringe benefits pool, which, according to Sexton, employees pay into for their health and welfare benefits.

Overall, participants said they felt that the University was putting adequate effort into the BeWell campaign for faculty and staff, not just focusing on the student population. Indeed, Stein stressed that much of BeWell’s programs were initiated for staff and will be extended to the students next year.

“The emphasis was to start off with the staff. Now we’re trying to work on students’ well-being as well,” he said.

Stein went on to say that many resources were already in place for students and that the program was not disregarding the student body. He said a proposal to create a wellness incentive plan for students will begin next year; the plan will be similar in structure to the one currently in use for employees.

“They’re doing an amazing job,” said Dawn Maxey ’08, a clinical researcher in pediatric cardiology. “I went to graduate school on the East Coast and there was nothing like this … it’s great to be on a campus where this is possible.”

However, not all shared this opinion.

“Not enough attention is being paid to [wellness],” Ji said. “There aren’t enough people coming — I’m the only one from my lab who came.”

BeWell is set to host a student wellness fair on May 12 in White Plaza.

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