Garrison Forest School Leader in Independent School Wellness Programs

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Garrison Forest School is the first independent school in the Baltimore region to partner with Charm City Run on an employee wellness program.

As educators and leaders GFS can set a visible example for young women in a very healthy way

Faculty and staff at Garrison Forest School (GFS), an all-girls K-12 school with a coed preschool in Owings Mills, Md., kicked off the academic year by taking a big step toward wellness with Garmin Vivofit bands. GFS is the first independent school to receive the bands— which calculate activity measures like steps taken, calories burned and even sleep patterns— as part of a pilot program with Charm City Run, a Baltimore area running and walking specialty chain. The Vivofit bands are just one tool in a new comprehensive, voluntary wellness program for GFS employees.

To kick off the program for the 75% of faculty and staff participating, employees are divided into cross-department teams for a four-week step challenge. The goal of the step challenge is to get everyone moving and to build connections across campus. The Vivofit challenge awards small prizes for the teams taking the most steps per week on average, and is the first of several initiatives and programs planned for the school year including:

  • Four-week Meet Your Goal Challenge: Employees meeting their stepping goals four days during the week will be entered to win a prize.
  • Brick Bodies Business of the Month: A 30-day challenge that includes a free 30-day membership at all Brick Bodies locations. Each employee will receive a “bingo” card that promotes trying out all aspects of the club including taking group exercise classes, meeting the staff, making goals and more.
  • Financial health seminars focusing on social security and retirement income, Medicare, estate planning and wills
  • Nutritionist speakers to provide guidance and answer questions about healthy eating.

According to a RAND corporation study, more than 85% of corporations employing 1,000 people or more have some type of wellness program. To implement a program scaled to Garrison Forest’s size (the school has 190 employees), Athletic Director Traci Davis and Garrison Forest alumna and Charm City Run employee Lisa Dowling Costello (’89) began to brainstorm a partnership, and the pilot program was born. Traci is excited about the program’s overwhelming response.

“The wellness program has been on our radar for quite a while as something we wanted to start, not just for the wellness part of it, but also the community building,” she said. “We want to get everybody up and moving and to promote awareness of a healthy lifestyle.” The program is led by the GFS Wellness Committee made up of faculty and staff from each division of the school.

For Charm City Run, the pilot program has implications far beyond the increased focus on wellness at GFS. Josh Levinson, Charm City Run owner, is enthusiastic about the partnership with the school and hopes that what comes out of the GFS program will help Charm City Run broaden the program to other school communities, eventually adapting it to include students as well.

“All we’re saying is that it’s important to move,” Josh said. “You don't have to train for a marathon or be Top Ten in lacrosse, but fitness is non-negotiable. As educators and leaders GFS can set a visible example for young women in a very healthy way.”

Garrison Forest employees will also enjoy “Garrison Forest Night” at Charm City Run’s Timonium store on Tuesday, September 30.

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