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OJC Press Release ID: 2454

Monday, January 18, 2016

OJC implements worksite wellness program

Otero Junior College kicked off its worksite wellness program with the start of 2016.  At the all staff meeting on Jan. 7, the wellness team introduced the first ingredient of the program: Become a Fitness Champion.

Employees are allowed two 10-15 minute walking breaks during the workday in addition to their regular breaks.  The goal is to get employees who sit at desks for long periods of time during their work day up and moving to counter the negative health effects of sitting. 

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a group of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. In addition, sitting for long periods appears to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“The negative effects of excessive sitting are not countered by workouts before or after work hours are over,” said Kurt Long, OJC Fitness Center director and chair of the wellness team. “We need to be moving periodically throughout the day.”

Employees check in at the fitness center during their walks to sign in. Each sign-in becomes an entry in the monthly Fitness Champion prize drawing. Prizes will include health-related items.

“I am in total support of this program,” said OJC President Jim Rizzuto. “All too often we get caught up in our day to day work routine and don’t take enough time to care for ourselves physically and mentally.  I thank Kurt Long and his committee for bringing forth this innovative program and encourage all on campus to join me in being a part of the worksite wellness program here at Otero Junior College.

The Fitness Champion walking program was chosen as the first step because it was easy to implement. It also addressed two of the top three health concerns reported by employees in a survey at the start of the academic year: need for physical activity and stress management.  The third concern was ergonomics, facilitating proper body mechanics during work tasks to decrease risk of injury due to overuse of muscles, poor posture and repeated tasks.  This will be addressed on an individual or departmental basis.

Rick Ritter, Otero County Public Health director, facilitated the first meeting of the wellness team and continues to provide support. Health Links has also served as a primary resource for the team.  Health Links™, a nonprofit initiative spearheaded by health and safety experts at the Center for Health, Work and Environment within the Colorado School of Public Health, has a mission to simplify how worksite health and safety get done, helping build healthy, vibrant businesses and a stronger local economy. Find out more at  Southeast Health Group loaned their Weigh and Win kiosk to OJC for several weeks to allow employees to benefit from that program as well.

The proposed mission of the OJC wellness team is to provide opportunities for employees to develop healthier lifestyles by supporting the adoption of habits and attitudes that contribute to positive well-being.  The committee meets monthly to plan activities and programming to support workplace wellness.

For more information, contact Kurt Long at 719-384-6916 or

Press Release Photo
The OJC worksite wellness team includes: (l-r) Cody Long, Brenda Mueller, Kaysie Schmidt, Christina Stork, Sue Samaniego, John Canaday, Jarrett Hart and Kurt Long. Not pictured: Allison Hall, Lisa Bamber and Denise Root.