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Campus Reaches Gold Status With Fitness Designation


May 26, 2009 – In recognition of efforts to create a culture of wellness, the American Heart Association for the first time has named Georgetown a Start! Fit-Friendly Company.

The designation from the heart association recognizes employers who champion the wellness needs of their workforce and encourage healthy behaviors.

Georgetown won the designation for its GUWellness program, which touts the health of faculty and staff members in terms of their minds, bodies and souls. The university achieved gold status, meaning Georgetown made strides toward criteria such as offering physical activity support, making healthy eating options available and promoting a wellness culture.

“We’re really excited because we work hard to focus on making our community well,” said Charles DeSantis, associate vice president and chief benefits officer. His office spearheads GUWellness. “The work we do to reach such a diverse community is not always easy, but I think GUWellness definitely has engaged people.”

DeSantis said he sees wellness initiatives happening all over the university, from colleagues forming lunchtime walking groups to people taking up yoga for the first time.

“We’re infiltrating people’s point of view around wellness and what it can do for you,” he said. “We have our wellness captains (in each department) to thank for that. They’re amazing and they keep their colleagues engaged.”

Faculty and staff have a new way to get involved in wellness in this month. June 1 marks the start of a GUWellness walking challenge. The monthlong challenge will have individuals and teams competing for prizes while logging their daily steps.

The June 1 kickoff event at 11 a.m. on Healy Lawn features a pedometer giveaway, free health screenings and information and giveaways from partners including lululemon athletic apparel, Spiral Flight Yoga, Georgetown Running Company, the American Heart Association, Yates Field House and United Healthcare.

DeSantis wants to get faculty and staff walking for wellness -- but also for the glory of the win at the American Heart Association’s Start! Greater Washington Heart Walk in November around the National Mall.

“I want Georgetown to be the No. 1 university,” he said. “Last year the University of the District of Columbia won, but I think we’re going to take it this year.”

More information on the walking challenge, the heart walk and other initiatives is available on the GUWellness website.

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