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Vol. LX, No. 19
September 19, 2008

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Employee Wellness Coming to the Forefront

On Denali’s West Rib, Dr. Norman Watts (l) with Martin le Roux at 16,200 feet, where Watts was forced to turn back: “My fellow climbers helped me out when I really needed it.”

More than 50 NCRR employees and contractors participated in the recent wellness event.

Photo: Bill Branson

A healthier workforce means a more productive workforce. The National Center for Research Resources is one of many ICs that recognize the importance of wellness. Recently, NCRR held a kick-off event for its staff, led by the newly created preemptive steps to promote efficiency and productivity (PEP) committee—aptly named by one of its employees.

The event, held outside of its offices in Democracy I, consisted of free health materials, fitness activities, games and a few speeches. NCRR staff used the occasion to have fun while getting a little exercise with colleagues. The event was a great start to NCRR’s new wellness program. Still in its initial stages, the program is designed to increase employee physical activity, encourage the selection of healthy food and lifestyle choices and promote timely screenings for ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The program, which also plans to provide staff with social networking opportunities and ways to contribute to charity, is part of an overall commitment to improve and enhance the quality of work life at NCRR. To make sure it is on the right track, the PEP committee is including staff in this process, so that it can ensure activities are tailored to the interests of NCRR employees.

“By providing opportunities for our employees to increase their knowledge and practice of preventive strategies, such as nutrition and exercise, we are showing the true value of the NIH mission,” said NCRR director Dr. Barbara Alving.

The kick-off was held with the help of Laura Lavrin of the NIH Recreation and Welfare Association and Dr. Rachel Permuth-Levine of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Lavrin, who serves as director of the NIH fitness centers, set up a table with material and information on membership and events. Greg Bartman, a martial arts instructor, described self-defense and kickboxing classes that are available at the Rockledge Fitness Center. Permuth-Levine, who is deputy director of NHLBI’s Office of Strategic and Innovative Programs, and her team provided support for the majority of health materials at the event, including a variety of HHS health promotion materials. NHLBI is a leader in worksite wellness at NIH and assists other ICs in starting up their own wellness outreach.

For information on how your IC can include health promotion activities for employees, contact Permuth- Levine at To learn how NCRR is implementing its wellness program, contact PEP committee chair Dr. Bonnie Dunn at NIHRecord Icon

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