By: Fiona Donelly
On Friday March 24th Merylese Merceica (Blue Eco Homes), Lyn Smith (Woodford Homes) and Teresa Henson from (Stainless Steel Worx) brought their teams together for a day at Trees Adventure Grose River Park to learn about better health and fitness primarily in the workforce with a special emphasis on physical and mental health
The idea for this collaborative venture came about last September when Lyn, Merylese and Teresa attended a ‘Get Healthy at Work’ business breakfast hosted by the NSW Government ‘Get Healthy at Work’ team. Following the breakfast Teresa, Lyn and Merylese discussed putting together a one-day program for their employees with speakers and activities focussed on nutrition, mental health and exercise. All three women are passionate about their employee’s wellbeing and creating opportunities for self-improvement.
The location in Yarramundi was ideal for a blend of physical activities and talks and Annie and Riley from Trees Adventure Grose River Park allowed them to take over the facility for the whole day. Mountain Bites Catering brought along tasty, healthy food platters for morning tea and lunch and the businesses made sure that there was plenty of fresh fruit provided throughout the day.
The day started with a talk from the NSW ‘Get Healthy at Work’ team. Each employee over the course of the day met with health professionals to have their cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI tested. All of their results were confidential and plans were put in place to continue to monitor and track how they got on after they received the results of their health check.
The Mates in Construction team spoke about their program of general awareness of depression and practical guidance about the support available to those needing help and someone to talk to. Merylese had recently completed a ‘Mates in Construction’ course where she learnt that apprentices in the building industry are in the highest at-risk category for suicide. With this information in mind, they decided to show their employees that they were valued and provide an opportunity for them to learn more about taking good care of both their physical and mental health. The talk helped to open up the conversation between managers and their staff about depression and suicide and the support available. Local State MP, Trish Doyle came along for this section of the day and commented that she encourages other businesses in the Mountains to follow this valuable business initiative. She spoke in State parliament at length about the program and said, “I acknowledge the efforts of Teresa Henson, Lyn and Allen Smith and Merylese and Joe Mercieca for organising the day. I thank them for stepping outside the comfort zone and moving away from the usual routine of a day’s work to offer a critically important break for their staff. I was so impressed by their commitment to, and care for, their workers on the day. It involved raucous laughter and brought tears to my eyes. Many could learn a lesson from their efforts and dedication and for reminding us all that we are human.”
The next session was with fitness instructor/personal trainer, Rose Merceica (from ‘Go Figure’) who worked with the teams on specific exercises to help improve cardio fitness. She then outlined a set of specific stretching exercises to warm up before starting work and to do at the end of the day to help them avoid problems with stiff and sore backs.
Fiona Kane from Informed Health spoke about nutrition, in particular about hidden sugars and bad fats. She discussed ways to incorporate healthier fats in our daily diet and the importance of keeping meals simple and fresh. She demonstrated the amount of sugar in energy drinks and alcohol (which was horrifying!). She also encouraged participants to carefully examine the list of ingredients on the back of pre-packed foods, and if there were more than 3 things they didn’t recognise, to put it back. The teams gave really enthusiastic feedback about Fiona’s talk saying that they appreciated that she was realistic about diet and the importance of moderation. They were especially blown away by the sugar content in everyday processed foods!
The day was wrapped up with a ‘treetop challenge’. The three companies tested their endurance on some very challenging courses, which included flying foxes and rope obstacle courses high up in the tree canopy. The hardest challenges got the most points with points deducted if people pushed in or needed to be rescued. Thankfully there were only two rescues performed during the day. Labor Senator, Susan Templeman came along to see the teams swinging from the trees and presented the winning prizes donated by Hobson, Sydney Tools and C.R. Laurence. Blue Eco Homes won the 1st prize by 3 points. All teams agreed it was a really positive and enjoyable day and each participant received a terrific goodie bag donated from Total Tools in Penrith.
The three businesses will be taking the Get Healthy at Work program to the next level within the next 6 months. Merylese, Lyn and Teresa encourage other businesses to organise a similar day for their staff or to come on board with them in future. They thoroughly recommend taking time out of a busy working schedule to team build, participate in some physical challenges and take away some valuable information about staying healthy at home and at work.