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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2015

SC Launches Public-Private Collaborative to Encourage a Healthier Workforce

COLUMBIA, S.C. -As part of the A Healthier State worksite wellness initiative, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced today that it has partnered with the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) and the S.C. Alliance of YMCAs to offer a special membership rate to government employees statewide. Starting today, all state employees in the Governor's Office, 16 cabinet agencies, DHEC, and the Department of Mental Health will receive up to a 15% discount on membership and a waived joining fee at any one of the 52 YMCAs across the state.

"Research indicates that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day lowers an individual's risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and high blood pressure," said Governor Nikki Haley. "Leading by example, this innovative collaborative will impact nearly 35,000 state employees-- helping our state agencies shrink health care costs, increase employee productivity, and reduce absenteeism."

"Worksites are a critical setting to implement obesity prevention and reduction strategies," said DHEC Public Health Outreach Director Jennifer Read. "27 percent of adults in South Carolina have not participated in any form of physical activity within the past month. Offering affordable access to key tools that can help positively impact the health and wellness of our employees, this multi-agency initiative reaffirms South Carolina's commitment to a healthier state."

Building on the state's obesity action plan (SCaledown.org), A Healthier State focuses on leading by example through helping assess, implement, and maintain effective worksite wellness environments and policies in 19 government agencies. A collaborative between DHEC and SCHA, the initiative includes five major action items: breastfeeding, nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and overall wellness culture. Supporting the physical activity component of the initiative, the YMCA pilot offering encourages employees to exercise by providing affordable access to resources to help them stay physically active.

"We are excited to introduce to these agencies the innovative concepts and evidence-based strategies of Working Well as well as a high level of leadership and mentorship from our hospitals across the state," said SCHA Working Well Director Jen Wright. "There is tremendous energy and motivation within the agencies to develop cultures that support the optimal health of their employees. SCHA believes in leading by example and we look forward to assisting these agencies and any worksite in S.C. to enhance a culture of wellbeing."

To take advantage of this special savings, government employees must provide their local YMCA with proof of employment in the form of an agency ID badge or recent pay stub. Individuals never have to sign a contract to join the YMCA and membership can be cancelled at any time. If an employee is already a member, they may immediately request the new discounted rate by providing proof of employment to their local YMCA.

"The Ys across South Carolina are very excited to be a part of the A Healthier State initiative," said Amy Splittgerber, Executive Director of the SC Alliance of YMCAs. "With 52 YMCA branches across the state, the Y is set up perfectly to provide a wide variety of programs and services to promote healthy living and improve employee health and quality of life."

YMCA amenities may include access to multiple Y locations, free group fitness classes, free water exercise classes, free child care, and special member rates for sports and other programs.

For more information about A Healthier State, go to SCaledown.org.

For a list of participating state agencies, click here.

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Cassandra Harris
Public Information Officer
harriscs@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127