Instead of swinging through McDonald’s drive-through at lunchtime, Liberty County is encouraging its employees to grab a healthy bite to eat and play Kinect for Xbox 360 with co-workers.
A few times a week, 41 workers from various county departments gather to participate in a grant-funded program called L.I.V.E. Well, a health promotion to get government employees excited about healthy living.
Liberty Fit Club, the physical aspect of the program, encourages employees to bounce, run, leap and try their hands at boxing in the commissioners’ boardroom throughout the week, which incorporates exercise into their daily lives.
“It puts people in a better frame of mind [for the rest of the afternoon],” county human resource specialist and L.I.V.E. Well promotion leader Laura Troutman said. “It’s good for camaraderie and employees getting together to know each other.”
The overall program combines healthy eating and exercise while encouraging participants to volunteer and get regular health screenings. Employees rack up “points” to win prizes, including cash, luncheons and gift cards. Those who come to play the Kinect for Xbox 360 — an interactive sports video game — during an eight-week period have their names entered into a raffle. One person will win the gaming system.
“Losing weight isn’t the only aspect of being well. You can just tell it’s made a positive impact on them,” Troutman said.
Program components also include luncheons with special guest speakers to encourage employees to look at their overall wellness. Employees also can get involved in a program that is similar to the show “The Biggest Loser” that involves regular weigh-ins and a luncheon to recognize those who lost the most weight at the end of eight weeks.
Krista Pilon, who works with the MACE Drug Task Force, popped in Friday afternoon for the first Kinect session, which included kicking soccer balls and running track.
“The Xbox  sessions, it is so much more interactive than the Wii,” Pilon said. “It is [also] nice to interact with people you don’t get to see [often].”
During the second session of the day, public works employees Johnny Schaadt and Jason Jones got into a boxing match, bouncing around the room, making jabs into the air.
County CFO Kim McGlothlin facilitated the second session Friday, laughing as she watched Jones’ and Schaadt’s avatars spar with each other on the screen.
“You can come in anytime during your lunch break and compete,” McGlothlin said.
Troutman started participating in the program five years ago when the Association County Commissioners of Georgia offered a grant to Liberty County through its Local Government Risk Management Services.
“Every year we get a little bit more and a little bit more [grant money],” she said of the funding used for promotional items like magnets, lunchboxes and water bottles. “They say I’m one of the most active coordinators.”
Since the start of the program, she has had positive feedback and sees the continuous impact the program has had on other employees’ lives. Some of the weigh-ins have shown massive improvements, including losing up to 22 pounds in eight weeks, something that Troutman thinks employees keep in mind as they move forward with their healthy living habits.
“My favorite part is when I get that employee who comes to me and says ‘you changed my life,’” she said. “They come up and thank me later … they’re truly healthier for it. It’s not just games and fun.”