Friday, January 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022
48° F Dallas, TX


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In our exercise-crazed society, people constantly bemoan the degenerating effects of sitting behind a desk all day. Studies assess stress related to almost every job on the books, but one professional group has been left out: teachers.

Last year, DISD Superintendent Linus Wright and the school district took a closer look at DISD teachers. The result: a DISD wellness program designed for preventa-tive health care.

According to Robby Collins, a DISD administrator for employee relations, the cost of health care for DISD employees has risen from approximately $2 million about 12 years ago to $9 million. These figures do not include costs for employees’ families, whose health-care tabs were completely picked up by the employees. Last spring, DISD ran a pilot program using the fitness plan of Dr. Kenneth Cooper of Dallas’ Aerobics Center. This year, for the first time in the United States, a school district well-ness program was initiated.

By the end of the 1982-83 school year, more than 5,000 DISD employees will have participated in the wellness program. Already, the district has paid $250,000-twice that amount was contributed by private foundations-and each employee must pay an additional $120. Spouses (about 500 have enrolled so far) pay $225.

For this price, a rigorous fitness regimen is offered. First is an eight-week preparatory phase. Blood, flexibility and body-fat composition tests are performed, and resting and treadmill electrocardiograms are monitored, followed by group and individual counseling. After the testing, there are eight weeks of organized group exercise, and for the remainder of the year, participants may use one of three DISD wellness sites to work on health maintenance. Each site is complete with classrooms for training sessions and exercise equipment.

After one semester, Wright says he is pleased with the program. Collins is pleased, too, and so are about 5,000 employees. Next year, if all goes well, those who participate in the program will receive a discount in healthcare insurance.