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State of Health

Wellness Programs Breathing New Life Into Oklahomans

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JONES, Oklahoma -

There's a statewide movement to get Oklahomans healthy. It's through a certification program which helps create healthier places to live, work, learn and play. 

Jones, Oklahoma, population 2,500, has all the makings of a sleepy town: quiet streets, a small downtown. But if you ask City Clerk Tammy Wallace, she'll tell you it's a town on the move.

"We all need to be healthier," said Jones City Clerk Tammy Wallace. 

She's taken the lead on getting her town on the right track.

"It's changed the morale around here," she said.

From balance ball office chairs to monthly wellness challenges - like monitoring blood pressure  - she has 100 percent participation in the program.

"The first wellness check that we did, one of our employees was a real bad diabetic who didn't know about it, so I feel like that saved a life there," Wallace said.

The lifestyle change has motivated employees off the clock too - where they line up for a 5K one weekend a month.

"The health of our state isn't going to move without action," said Julie Dearing, Wellness Systems Manager.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health started the program in 2003 to recognize communities, schools and businesses for making healthy choices. Jones has received the honor three years in a row.

Some of the reason include a strong tobacco ordinance banning smoking and vaping on city properties and a park with a walking trail. Plans are in the works to expand the park to add exercise equipment.

It's really taken off, I never thought it would be what it is," said City Clerk Tammy Wallace.

The town's healthy movement has inspired schools and businesses to also get certified.

"We are so sedentary, all of us sit pretty much all day long," said Sandee Bates, wellness coordinator for Casulty Corporation of America, Inc.  

Casulty Corporation of America worked with the town of Jones to become a certified healthy business. Now they have their own workout facility for its 35 employees and offer other incentive programs for participating.

"It's dropped our call in rate by almost 40 percent this year because people, when they feel better about themselves, they feel better about coming to work, and they're healthier," Bates said.

"It's a recognition program; who doesn't like to be recognized," Dearing said. "I think it helps people, you know, get excited about wellness."

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