Building a Healthier Capitol

ahs2.jpg

SCHA has worked with the South Carolina General Assembly and other key partners to design and implement a wellness program making the State House a healthier place to work, govern and visit. Our goal was to create a culture of healthy living that extended beyond the members of the House and Senate to establish the SC State House as a leader in workplace wellness. And we couldn’t be prouder of the results so far.   

In just its second year, A Healthier State House went from a burgeoning wellness program for state leaders to a celebrated initiative memorialized on the State House grounds. A Healthier State House will now serve not just the state officials and special interests that visit the Capitol to govern and advocate, but also the students, families and employees who frequent the grounds in their daily endeavors.

On March 22, 2017, Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) and Rep. Neal Collins (R-Pickens) unveiled new State House monuments dedicated to the program. The granite markers include an interactive component that allows visitors to track their physical activity based on walking trails across the state capitol. These monuments will serve as a symbol of the state’s dedication to encouraging healthy, active lifestyles among its citizens for generations to come.

We don’t assume that policy makers understand the impact of health behavior on health status or the importance of having access to services to keep you on track. Knowledge is power, but personal experience is invaluable. By exposing state leaders to the critical importance of personal health, we can translate that awareness into policy initiatives that improve the overall health status of South Carolina.

A Healthier State House has brought together more than 200 participants made up of House Representatives, Senators, legislative staff and lobbyists. Through a partnership with FitBit, we’ve enhanced the visibility of the program and presented at Fitbit’s national conference as a model for other states. But most importantly, regular health screenings and access to healthy menu options and activities have significantly improved wellness culture at our state capitol.

In 2017, we engaged 130 individuals in our Fitbit dashboard with team challenges that boosted averages by more than 10,000 steps per day. Our legislative champions, Rep. Neal Collins and Sen. Thomas McElveen (D-Sumter), increased the pressure with public challenges on social media that motivated participants to make healthy choices. We provided 129 biometric screenings, issued a healthy dining guide, and provided a FitDesk and healthy snacks during budget week. The program has generated interest from other states and local municipalities that will ultimately increase awareness of the importance of personal health.

Thank you to our partners that helped make A Healthier State House a model for healthy living in 2017.