United Tribes News

Wellness courses offered
23 March 2009

BISMARCK (UTN) - United Tribes students and staff members have had a convenient way to work off the winter blues and get credit for it at the same time. During spring semester, two wellness courses have been offered as part of the college’s ongoing wellness program.

      “Introduction to Wellness” is a general education, two credit elective course open to students in all of the colleges’ 14 different programs. The class was added to the curriculum several years ago and 192 students are enrolled for the spring semester.

WORKOUT WISE: Instructor Ruth Buffalo-Zarazua resets the elliptical exercise machine for Practical Nursing student Chasity Baker (Spirit Lake) during a wellness class at United Tribes Technical College. UTTC has designed wellness training classes for both students and the staff. Read more on page 45. United Tribes News photo Dennis J. Neumann

      “Wellness in the Workplace” is a new offering. The independent study course is for employees to use their daily one-half-hour wellness break granted by the college. Each can earn the equivalent to four CEUs and 127 employees are participating.

      Both courses require daily wellness activity, such as walking or working out in the college’s new fitness center and gymnasium, observing healthy lifestyle choices and eating habits, or practicing spiritual health in the center’s healing room. Another requirement is to keep a daily journal of one’s wellness activities.

      The classes are instructed by Ruth A. Buffalo-Zarazua, coordinator of the college’s Strengthening Lifestyles Program in the Lewis Goodhouse Wellness Center. Buffalo-Zarazua is a Certified Wellness Program Coordinator (Level 1) and a Certified Wellness Program Manager (Level 11).

      Staff members in the college’s Student Health Center, Chemical Health Center, Center for Student Success and Strengthening Lifestyles Program pitch in with training and assistance on topics in their field of expertise. The approach in both courses embraces a broad definition of wellness, including mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, occupational, and environmental wellness.

WORKSITE WELLNESS: Wanda Agnew, PhD, far right, presented a talk February 24 at the United Tribes Wellness Center attended by college staff and students in the wellness classes. Agnew is a Licensed Registered Dietician with Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health. From left, United Tribes employees Carol Walker and Anita Charging, and two UND Dietetics student interns: Christa Anderson and Breanna Bjerke. United Tribes News photo Dennis J. Neumann

      “One of the goals is for the campus community to become a healthier place to work and study,” said Buffalo-Zarazua. “Worksite wellness programs need to focus on the total individual.”

      During the fall 2008 term, Buffalo-Zarazua and the Healthy Lifestyles staff coordinated a successful seven-week campus walking club program that tallied nearly 950 miles from 64 participants.

      “We felt it was important that we build on that success and keep the momentum going,” said Buffalo-Zarazua. “The Wellness in the Workplace class started with a strong focus on walking. Physical fitness is certainly important but in our view there are other dimensions. We expanded the scope of this class to include things like spending time with a loved one, cooking a healthy meal for your family and friends, beading, quilting, hunting, laughing, and a long list of other activities that encourage participants to find a healthy balance in their lives.”

      The offering for staff focuses on raising awareness about the importance of pursuing wellness while at work. An emphasis for the staff is to understand the relationship between wellness in the workplace and the improvement of employee health. Among the assignments is to study social science research into the affect wellness programs have on employee productivity and the use of health care insurance.

      Another dimension is for participants to connect contemporary wellness with the wellness of tribal people in the past and understand the similarities and differences.

      Especially important in both classes is to understand how proper nutrition, exercise and regular physician checkups will help lower health risk factors.

      Both students and staff members take part in discussion forums that are posted on the colleges intra-net. At the end of the course, one of the objectives is for the participants to create a personal wellness plan consisting of daily practices that are supported by the instruction and research.

      “What we’ve found is that encouraging others to make behavioral changes is always a challenge,” said Buffalo-Zarazua. “And it’s especially important that we work on preventing those health disparities such as Type 2 diabetes. We have a lot of great resources here on campus that make for a successful worksite wellness program.”

      For more information about the United Tribes wellness courses contact: Ruth Buffalo-Zarazua, 701-255-3285 x1357, rbuffalo@uttc.edu.


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