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University to receive Durham Region’s Gold Standard Healthy Workplace Award

Green apple - Healthy Workplace Committee

For the third consecutive year, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has received a Healthy Workplace Award (Gold category) from the Regional Municipality of Durham’s Health Department.

The Healthy Workplace Award recognizes workplaces in Durham Region for their efforts to support employee health.

The Region has honoured the university’s 2016 efforts with a Gold Award in four categories:

  • Healthy Eating*
  • Physical Activity*
  • Mental Health*
  • Tobacco-Free Living

*The university also received Gold Awards in these categories in 2014 and 2015.

The formal presentation of the Gold Awards will take place early in the new year.

“The University of Ontario Institute of Technology takes pride in its ongoing commitment to ensuring our campus is a healthy, safe and supportive place to work,” said Joanne Evans, Director of Human Resources. “Being recognized by the Region for the third straight year is a testament to the quality and variety of resources and programs we offer to help promote a positive and healthy work environment, as well as the physical and emotional wellness of our faculty and staff.”

To achieve the award, a workplace must use at least two of the following four health strategies:

  • Awareness Raising
  • Education and Skill Building
  • Environmental Support
  • Healthy Policies

The university’s Human Resources department created the Healthy Workplace Committee (HWC) in 2013. This team includes faculty and staff representatives from various departments, offices and faculties across the university. Since its launch, the HWC has championed a number of resources and projects in support of employee health. 2016 initiatives included:

  • Carnations for Kindness – November 14

    Faculty and staff purchased and gave out carnations to their colleagues, family and friends in honour of World Kindness Day. A total of $250 was raised and all proceeds were donated to the Holiday Food Drive.

  • Campus Connected training – September to November

    HWC partnered with Student Mental Health Services to offer a two-hour interactive Campus Connected training session, which encourages faculty, staff and students to:

    • Connect with others on campus.
    • Develop and demonstrate a caring and kind attitude.
    • Listen with empathy instead of judgment.

    Participants received a Campus Connected sticker for their laptop/door and a button that identifies them as caring members of the Campus Connected movement. Additional Campus Connected training sessions will be offered in the new year.

  • Just for the Health of It Photo Contest – Summer 2016

    The HWC held its third-annual Just for the Health of it Photo Contest this summer to promote physical fitness, activity and fun. Employees were asked to submit photos of themselves taking part in any physical activity in one of three categories. Prizes included UOIT athletic wear and SportCheck gift cards to support further activity and reflection.

  • Mental Health Awareness Week – May 2 to 6

    HWC hosted a series of workshops and events in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association 65th Annual Mental Health Week. Speakers included the Faculty of Education’s Dr. Jennifer Laffier, who addressed issues surrounding mental health first aid in the workplace, and keynote speaker Dr. Bill Howatt, Chief Research and Development Officer for Workforce Productivity, Morneau Shepell.

    The university also invited the campus community to become Mindsight-certified. Dr. Wendy Stanyon, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), developed Mindsight as an easy-to-use training tool designed to help alleviate the stigma around mental illness. The program is open to everyone and is free. Mindsight takes less than two hours to complete and can be completed one module at a time.

  • Summer yoga events

    The Healthy Workplace Committee hosted a number of yoga events throughout the summer:

    • Yoga in the Park with the Provost – June 14: Faculty and staff joined Deborah Saucier, Provost and Vice-President, Academic in an hour-long yoga session where they learned how to:
      • Increase energy and reduce stress through breathing exercises.
      • Clear the mind with meditation.
      • Increase body awareness and improve posture with yoga poses.
    • Yoga in the Commons – Wednesdays throughout the summer: HWC teamed up with the university’s Athletics department and Durham College’s Healthy Campus Taskforce to offer free yoga sessions on campus at Polonsky Commons.
  • Healthy Eating Workshop – March 18

    Two employees whose recipes were published in the university’s 2016 Healthy Recipes Calendar demonstrated their nutritious recipes. Participants learned:

    • How to cook a quick, easy and nutritious meal.
    • 10 tips for healthy eating, including salt intake, portion size and healthy snacking.
    • Tools and resources to support a healthy lifestyle.

    The demonstration included a taste test and healthy snacks.

  • Friendship Friday Booster Juice Smoothies – February 12

    Employees showed their appreciation for their colleagues by giving them a Booster Juice Smoothie. Proceeds from smoothie sales went to the Campus Food Centre.

The Healthy Workplace Committee would like to thank the campus community for supporting these initiatives, and extends its best wishes for a happy holiday season!

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