The Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) today awarded the Chicago Park District with the “Exceptional Workplace” Award during the IPRA Annual Conference held in Chicago. The honor was given to the Chicago Park District to recognize the organization’s efforts to support employee health and wellness.
“The Park District provides residents in every Chicago neighborhood with a variety of recreational activities that promote overall health and fitness, but they also prioritize the health and wellness of their employees,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I commend the Park District for their encouragement and support of healthy lifestyles, which allow Parks employees to lead by example when promoting healthy activities in our communities.”
Last year, the Chicago Park District joined the City of Chicago’s “Chicago Lives Healthy,” a comprehensive wellness program for employees and their spouses, domestic partners and civil union spouses covered under the employee health plan. This is the same wellness program that is also used by employees of the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago City Colleges and Chicago Housing Authority.
“We are extremely proud to accept this award,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Mike Kelly. “Our workforce is our greatest asset. By supporting the comprehensive well-being of our employees, we not only encourage them to make positive changes in their lifestyles but also reap the benefits of a healthier, happier and more energetic workforce.”
Additional Chicago Park District efforts highlighting employee health include the creation of the “Employee Healthy Living Club”, which offers opportunities for exercise and workshops on health and other wellness related topics. Chicago Park District employees are also allowed to use any one of the District’s 71 fitness centers free of charge with their work identification card.
The premise behind the IPRA “Exceptional Workplace” award goes beyond encouraging employees to count calories and add physical activity to their day. It encompasses implementing multiple dimensions of wellness to develop a balanced life including physical activity, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and environmental/safety.
Each IPRA member agency completed an online self-assessment of their efforts to improve and support overall employee health. These assessments, along with relevant documentation were reviewed by an IPRA selection committee made up of leading Illinois health and wellness professionals. All submissions were tallied based on a point system in order for a final decision to be made.