The city of Bessemer City was recently recognized by the Gaston Together Healthcare Commission for achieving Bronze Level recognition in the Healthy Gaston initiative.
Healthy Gaston provides organizations with guidelines to help them build wellness programs for their employees, volunteers, etc. To attain the Bronze Level, the first in a series of levels of recognition, an organization must engage senior management and involve their employees in the development of a wellness plan.
Bessemer City recently made a commitment to the citizens and visiting public to provide a safe and healthy environment. In an effort to support the 50 employees making healthier decisions through Healthy Gaston, the city now offers bottled water, fruit, vegetables and gluten-free options at all city-sponsored meals.
In addition, Bessemer City recently passed the most comprehensive tobacco- and smoke-free policy in the state of North Carolina. They also hope to inspire other municipalities to follow in their footsteps.
City Manager James Inman and the city council have been the driving force behind Bessemer City’s success. Inspired by his own personal experience with the devastating effects of his parents' smoking, Inman had taken interest in creating tobacco- and smoke-free zones within the city. His vision was brought to life through the support of the city council which unanimously passed the smoke- and tobacco-free ordinance. While there were initial doubts about how the public would receive the ordinance, to the city’s surprise, the public response has been overwhelmingly positive, according to officials.
Overall wellness has improved by providing healthier options for employees at work, and the city has included sustainability efforts to encourage employees to live a better life at work and at home. For example, now every office has a recycling receptacle. The city is also exploring the possibility of offering an employee health fair. Employees would be able to receive flu shots and handle insurance and health care needs, as well as receive information regarding Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to ensure the employees’ emotional and mental health needs are being met.
For more information on the work of the Healthcare Commission or to sign up for the Healthy Gaston process, contact Donna Lockett, Gaston Together, 704-867-9869, ext. 111, visit www.healthygaston.org or become active on the Healthy Gaston Facebook page.