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Get Involved: Wellness Commodores

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The Health Plus Wellness Commodore Program includes Vanderbilt Faculty and Staff from both the University and Medical Center who act as a liaison between their work department and Health Plus. Wellness Commodores play a key role in helping to create a healthy culture and supporting colleagues in living a healthy lifestyle. With the support of Health Plus, Wellness Commodores may lead a variety of activities and share resources to support their colleagues.

In this Wellcast, Pam Schneller and Alecia Fair share their tips and insights from their Wellness Commodore experience.

Learn more about Health Plus Wellness Commodores.

Ready to sign up to become a Wellness Commodore?

Contact us for more information or call 343-8943

​Begin Transcript

Laura Osterman       Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Laura Osterman with Health Plus.  The Health Plus Wellness Commodore Program includes Vanderbilt faculty and staff from both the university and medical center, who act as a liaison between their work department and Health Plus.  Wellness commodores play a key role in helping to create a healthy culture and supporting colleagues and living a healthy lifestyle.  For this Wellcast, we have two exceptional wellness commodores here to talk about their experience

Pam Schneller:         I am Pam Schneller, and I am an Associate Dean at the Blair School of Music

Alecia Fair:              I am Alecia Fair, and I am a Research Services Consultant II at the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research

Laura Osterman:      Pam, can you tell us what motivated you to get involved as a Wellness Commodore?

Pam Schneller:         I love being active, and being active has changed my life in so many dramatic ways, and so when I had the opportunity to kind of have a forum to congratulate people on being active and to get people excited about being active, I was really happy to do it,

Laura Osterman:      And Alecia, can you tell us what motivated you to become a Wellness Commodore?

Alecia Fair:              I am really enthusiastic about being active and working out and eating healthy and who wants to do those type of activities alone, you always need your esprit de corps in the department to join you and keep everyone motivated.

Laura Osterman:      Pam, what does wellness look like in your department?

Pam Schneller:         Wellness takes a lot of different forms in my department.  Most of the faculty have very varied schedules.  They do not work 8 to 5.  So, a lot of our people are somewhat motivated by the bulletin boards and the announcements, but then there is another whole group of us that are on the staff, , and those people more so are tied to their desks a little bit, and so it is very hard for them to get away and really come to the gym or have an exercise program, and so we started walking group with those folks, and we are able to pull them together for 30 minutes a day and just head out, and that has made huge difference among our staff members in giving them some energy.

Laura Osterman:      Alecia, can you tell us what does wellness look like for you in your department?

Alecia Fair: We have a structure kind of similar to what Pam mentioned.  We do have some faculty, we have staff, and we have students as well.  We have the marathon runners and people who are playing tennis or we are close to the football stadium, so we see some folks up running the stairs in the stadium, but we also try to be good models for those who may be coming to be active for the first time.   We really promote walking as a safe activity that anybody can start doing.  So, for us, we are open, we want to support each other,

Laura Osterman:      Now, there are a variety of things Wellness Commodores can do to encourage others in their departments.  You both spoke about leading group activities and others find creative ways to communicate.  Can you tell us what some those best practices might be?

Pam Schneller:         We have a structured time where we try to go, but of course, it varies as the day progresses, and sometimes, we will walk through the hallways and just grab additional people as we go, and I think when people see us then more people start doing things.  That has worked well for us.  The announcements and emails and fitness tips and cooking recipes, that reaches another audience that I hope is helpful.

Laura Osterman:      and Alecia, can you tell us some of your best practices or works for your group?

Alecia Fair:              I try to do a newsletter every month and have inspirational quotes, a healthy recipe.  I always have links to Health Plus website just that they could see what is going on.  I print out the copy of the calendar and also, of course, physical wellness is important, but we also believe in being uplifting, and we try to celebrate people’s lifecycle events.  We have a fund for birthday cards, graduations, marriages, babies, so I think just keeping people acknowledged and making them feel important and special helps our wellness profile in our department.

Laura Osterman:      You’ve both been very committed to the Wellness Commodore program, what keeps you involved and what keeps you going?

Pam Schneller:         To me, the excitement of seeing some of these women, for example, and men who have done nothing, nothing at all, and now we can do six flights of stairs, and that they can do it and feel good about themselves and that keeps me going.

Laura Osterman:      And Alecia, what for you keeps you going as a commodore?

Alecia Fair:              I echo what Pam says.  I think some of these things that we do are transformative, maybe not a huge change at the beginning, but we get to see incrementally people’s lives change and they realize it is a goal that they have achieved, and if you are regimented and do things with working out, it does translate into your work productivity.

Laura Osterman:      What about the time commitment as a Wellness Commodore?  Sometimes, folks feel like they are already so busy to take on one more thing.  What would be your recommendation or your advice for those that might have interest but feel concerned about time?

Pam Schneller:         Every place is different.  I think for me I was scared of the time commitment, and then I discovered that it really was not a commitment.  It was look around, see what could work here, and add what “Oh, I think this might work, I’ll do that, I can handle that,” and not take way from my job responsibilities and eat too much time, and I think I found that it is much easier to be a Wellness Commodore than I had any idea that it could be.

Alecia Fair:              It’s not something you have to do all in one day, I think it is neat to get testimonials from people who have incorporated wellness in their life and featured that in the newsletter.  We use the same templates for the newsletter in our office.  We just populate it with the new activities each month.  I believe wellness is really a pillar of how we do well here at Vanderbilt, and so I make time for it, but it is not a lot of time at all,

Laura Osterman:      We certainly appreciate your efforts, both of you, in your departments and serving as leaders in your area and in the Vanderbilt community.  Health Plus sends a monthly newsletter and has a Facebook page for Wellness Commodores.  If you are interested in becoming a Wellness Commodore, the Health Plus team would be glad to coordinate with you.  Please see the links included on the Wellcast page for more information or you can contact us by email at or call 343-8943.

Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page.  If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at

— end of recording  —

Posted on Friday, August 1, 2014 in Health Plus, Wellcasts and tagged ,


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