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Midwest Worksite Health Promotion Conference Reaches Year 13!

By: Mary Kruse, President

Nine months of planning comes to fruition on Nov. 13, 2012. The Midwest Worksite Health Promotion conference is heading into its 13th year. It started in 1999 to replace the hole left when the Association for Worksite Health Promotion went defunct in 1996. Minnesota’s health promotion professionals wanted a venue close to home to gain and share new information and to network with colleagues.

Each year the conference has a new theme and is built around new trends, best practices, idea sharing and networking. This year’s conference theme, Balancing the Elements of Wellbeing, is designed around the five pillars of good health—career, social, financial, physical/mental and community. Each breakout session follows this theme and the presentations were chosen based on how they aligned with the pillars.

As a health promotion professional, it’s challenging to shift from the current paradigm which focuses on physical wellbeing, into a paradigm of career, financial and community wellbeing. We have implemented lifestyle and behavior change programs for years, but isn’t it HR’s job to deal with career? And benefits to deal with finances? As I look at these questions, I step back and realize you can’t expect a single parent with three kids who is barely making ends meet to succeed at a weight management program until they have more control in other areas within their life– they have way bigger concerns than their waist line. So, why aren’t we embracing the whole person with the same confidence and options that we have with physical activity, nutrition and stress management?

I find this new paradigm not about building from scratch, but rather doing what health promotion professionals do best: building partnerships and aligning and integrating services.

I am very excited about the opportunities this conference will present to our profession. I am confident that to build a culture of health, we need to step outside our physical paradigm and challenge ourselves to cast our nets wider and add new dimensions to our programming.