What is the Department Wellness Fund?
The Department Wellness Fund (DWF) is a grant-like initiative sponsored by GatorCare that makes funds available to UF and UF Health departments to support health and wellness initiatives. Department Wellness Funds provide opportunities for departments to develop creative and tailored wellness initiatives in partnership with the wellness team.
As we strive to create and maintain a culture of health at UF and UF Health, we encourage you to apply for one of ten awards of up to $500 to promote wellness in your department.
Applications for the 2019 fund opened in July and over thirty were received and reviewed. There were so many innovative and unique entries! A committee of reviewers narrowed down the applications to fourteen total winners, with ten departments receiving $500 and four receiving $250. We are excited to share the recipients of the 2019 Department Wellness Fund:
The Office of Professional and Workforce Development will plant Florida-friendly plants around the TREEO Center behind Kanapaha Park. The initiative will reduce mosquito populations in the area and reduce stress by team building for a rewarding cause. Bonus! The department recently moved in to this existing space and this project will help them feel more at home in their new digs.
UF IT is turning time spent in front of the computer into a wellness effort by acquiring a virtual reality headset to increase physical activity during the day and relieve stress. Employees will be able to visit a dedicated exercise room and explore apps geared towards fitness and stress relief.
The Division of Cardiology will create a space for faculty, fellows and staff to retreat from an often hectic and demanding workspace to avoid burnout. The space will consist of a massage chair, snacks/drinks, a yoga mat, light weights for exercise and adjustable lighting.
The College of Pharmacy at the Lake Nona Campus will establish programs that tackle stress management, meditation, confidence, team sports, massage therapy, yoga, stretching, high intensity interval training and nutrition. The funds will be used to purchase materials for the various programs.
The Florida Museum of Natural History will ramp up their current wellness plan, Museum Moves, which allows employees to gather in the morning twice a week for light stretching, mobility work and yoga. The DWF will be used to enhance this program by supplying employees with foam rollers, stretching bands, yoga mats and light refreshments.
Anesthesiology will create an area to allow employees to exercise, meditate, relax and stretch by purchasing yoga mats and resistance bands to add to current exercise equipment. The department will also host a Wellness Workshop Series focusing on finance, nutrition and team building, with many of the sessions lead by the GatorCare team. The department is rewarding the highest steppers of this year’s Walking Challenge as well. This proposal is a great example of building off of existing challenges and resources.
The College of Education Dean’s Office established their Employee Engagement Cooperative (EEC) in February, intended to help employees connect, develop their skills and facilitate stress-reducing and team-building activities. The EEC oversees three main initiatives on a rotating basis, focusing on one per year. The first year’s focus is on wellness. The DWF will help fund a staff retreat to Lake Wauberg, where they will strengthen working relationships and facilitate personal growth. Staff will be connected with an accountability partner to encourage and motivate each other for the year to follow, and a “Small Effort = Big Change” award will be given in May to the group who has shown the most progress.
Animal Care Services will sponsor several initiatives to get their staff across multiple locations interacting with each other in positive ways and participating in a variety of wellness activities. Initiatives include a positive vibes board to share positive comments about colleagues, a fun scavenger hunt, Unicorn Quest, to get people outside their own building, and several challenges centered around water consumption, stretching and personal finances.
The College of Pharmacy will organize monthly gatherings to create fellowship and community amongst faculty and staff. The gatherings will center around a community food item, like a group salad or yogurt bar, and an educational workshop. Funds will also be utilized to help employees distress during the day with items like yoga mat, puzzles and adult coloring books.
The Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety will create three “Break Boxes” that each department will own and decorate. These boxes will contain supplies that encourage healthy breaks including items to help employees de-stress like puzzles, card games, stress balls, hand massagers, yoga mats, yoga blocks and foam rollers. The break boxes informally grant permission to employees to take a break and recharge.
The Purchasing department at UF Health will use funds to encourage a more active work environment by obtaining DeskCycles, tables on wheels and balance ball chairs.
The Finance department at UF Health will purchase an Omron blood pressure monitor to help track employees’ heart health. They will also enact an “assault on salt” with a series of challenges and educational games to create healthier habits and ultimately impact blood pressure control.
The Cardiac Care Unit (76) will offer an easily transported hydration station, complete with unique flavoring options created with fresh fruit and herbs. To further promote healthy water consumption, those who participate in using the hydration station will be entered to win a different raffle prize each month.
Pediatrics will establish a “Pediatric Zen Den,” where staff, faculty and learners can go to get refreshments, wellness information, EAP resources, relaxation games or take a stretch break. Employees will be able to relax and improve morale.
Recipients are required to submit evaluations on the success of their respective projects, and results will be shared with all next spring! The next round of Department Wellness Fund applications will likely open Summer 2020. Stay tuned!