California Educator

January / February 2017

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Educators in Beverly Hills are taking steps (literally) to become healthier, and are setting an excellent example for school staff throughout the state. Last year, the Beverly Hills Education Association ( B H E A ) l a u n c h e d a w e l l n e s s p r o - gram for m emb ers called BHE Althy. Members who participate, including cl assif i ed and c er tif icat ed st af f, are committ ed to taking more st eps, on campus and off. The more they walk, the more points they get. ey submit the number of miles they walk or run each week, using apps such as MyFitnessPal, Nike+ and FitBit. The mileage for each participant is tabulated on a weekly basis. At the end of a semes- ter, BHEA members receive prizes based on top overall participant, highest per- centage participation at a school site, and highest average miles per member at a school site. ere's even a sponsor — a local company donates bottled water to the cause. "It's a way to get our members thinking about their health and motivate ever yone to exercise more," says BHEA President Telly Tse, a special education teacher at Beverly Hills High School, who charts everyone's mileage as one of his official duties. "It also brings a sense of fun Big Steps It's a group effort to BHEAlthy in 90210 By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Scott Buschman and competition to the workplace. And exercise is a great way to reduce stress." Approximately 50 out of 400 members have taken part. BHEA hopes to recruit more members after the start of the new year, when people tend to focus on becoming healthier. The goal is for members to increase activity, not necessarily lose pounds. But often that happens along the way. " When I started teaching, I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now," says Tse. " When you go to teacher con- ferences, you can't help notice that a lot of us could improve our health. It's important because it not only benefits us, but the kids. Healthier teachers have more energy in the classroom." Carol Courneya, a paraprofessional at Beverly Hills High, began walking and occasionally running around the school track during her lunch hour. Now she feels healthier and is starting to see results. "It's fun to compete with your colleagues," says Cour- neya. "Telly records our information, and we can see how everyone is doing. So far, there's about 10 to 20 BHEA members participating per site." Being part of the competition makes educators more aware of how they traverse Beverly Hills High, an enor- mous campus where a golf cart is often the preferred travel method for staff to get from one end of the school to another in a hurry. "Now, I always take the stairs — and no golf cart for me," says special education teacher Alissa Glass, whose Fitbit records her mileage and heart rate. Alana Castanon, a STEM teacher at Beverly Vista School, says participation has been a bonding experience for BHEA members, and has provided something to talk about besides work. She was excited to win a Starbucks gift card for her efforts. "Participation made me feel better. Last year, I set a goal to run my first half marathon, and I accomplished that goal. I was proud of myself. Our jobs are very taxing, both physically and mentally, so keeping up with your physical health is a great way to stay at the top of your game. Our health is everything." While BHEAlthy got a positive reception from most members, some questioned its merits. "One or two people asked, 'Why are you doing this?' " recalls Tse. "ey said, 'Shouldn't the union be doing more important things?' " He encouraged them to see their health as a priority. Negotiating a good salary and benefits is important. But so is being healthy enough to enjoy it, he pointed out. "Focusing on maintaining wellness should always be an important aspect of union work," says Tse. "It's also a lot of fun. I'd definitely encour- age other chapters to give it a try." Paraprofessional Carol Courneya and special education teacher Alissa Glass walk at Beverly Hills High School. "A lot of us could improve our health. It's important because it not only benefits us, but the kids. Healthier teachers have more energy in the classroom." — Telly Tse, Beverly Hills Education Association president 54 CTA & You

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