January 30, 2017
In September, the Institute for Social Research (ISR) announced Kathleen O’Sullivan-Cook asISR MHealthy Wellness Champion. In this two-year volunteer position, she will lead efforts to create a healthier atmosphere within ISR through wellness education, support and events.
MHealthy, the University of Michigan’s (U-M) health and well-being program, helps those in theU-M community thrive through better health. Established in 2005, the program is managed byU-M’s human resources department, which assists in many ways, including the MHealthyWellness Champion appointment. The champion represents his or her department or organization within U-M and works with a MHealthy coordinator to foster a healthier work environment.
As MHealthy Wellness Champion for ISR, O’Sullivan-Cook will head a volunteer panel, also from ISR, to plan ways to encourage better health. It will implement an action plan over the next year and assess its effectiveness at the end, making changes as needed, before continuing fora second year. O’Sullivan-Cook, who works in Research Administration as a grants and contracts administrator intermediate, sees her role as a guide. “I’m excited to help my colleagues work toward their own health goals by providing information and easily accessible resources to encourage them on their way,” she says. “I’m looking forward to providing small tips and reminders that can help improve your day, like remembering to take little breaks to stretch and recharge.”
Co-workers encouraged O’Sullivan-Cook to apply to be MHealthy Wellness Champion because of her own success story and personal interest in health. “Five years ago, I decided to focus on myself, and I began researching nutrition and fitness,” she says. “I’ve since lost 100 pounds. I’m working on it every day, and I’m still incredibly motivated to keep going. Through this process,I’ve learned the importance — and the struggles — with keeping up a routine. I want to share what I’ve learned firsthand, as well as make other information readily available to anyone at ISR who is interested in making healthy changes in their life.”
The ISR action plan is under development, but O’Sullivan-Cook says she hopes to provide a few health education events throughout the year, as well as regular emails with tips for nutrition,exercise and mental health. She also says she’d like to offer incentives or rewards for those in the program. From her own experience, O’Sullivan-Cook knows support and encouragement are key for success. “Becoming healthy is about making a lifestyle change, and it’s helpful to live and work in environments that support your goals,” she says. “Once you have that in place,why not start making better choices today?”