Haley Hopkins by Haley Hopkins

Wellness programs, whether they are worksite-based or in the community, are only as successful as their leaders and champions. These individuals are the key to creating lasting change, which is why it’s so important to identify the right people to lead the charge. When it comes to getting people moving, you need people who are physical activity advocates—people passionate about fitness and wellness and who are outspoken about the importance of being active. Leaders that can make a big impact are knowledgeable, invested in the cause, and enthusiastic about the mission. But, it can be a challenge to know what to look for in a person when trying to identify leaders and create physical activity programs.

Here are some tips on identifying effective wellness champions for your fitness and wellness programs:

Worksite Wellness Programs

We have all at some point been tasked with an assignment that we were not excited to do. It usually feels like a chore and you may drag your feet to complete it. Many worksite wellness programs are often put on the shoulders of human resources and support administration. These individuals may not be the ones who chose to implement the program and they often have little interest in leading them, are working with limited resources and knowledge, and have minimal free time in their workday.  With those constraints, programming can start to feel like a chore they have to complete versus a project they are excited to tackle. Because of this it is more effective to find an individual to volunteer versus assigning it to staff.

To identify an effective program advocate and volunteer, look for someone who:

  • Is personally interested in being active and healthy
  • Holds a leadership position
  • Is well liked by their peers
  • Has an enthusiastic and motivating personality

Community-Led Programs

Research shows that when individuals from outside of a community try to implement programs based on what they believe is needed, without the community taking part in the decision processes and programming, the program will show little positive, sustainable change. Therefore, programs that are aimed at getting an entire community moving are best led by members within that community. These individuals will know the problems, the needs, and the interests of their community and they’ll have connections that outside individuals and organizations would take years to appropriately identify. A good candidate to lead wellness efforts will be someone who:

  • Has pride in their community
  • Is well-respected and trusted by community members
  • Has lived in the community for many years
  • Is already involved in efforts to create change

ACE works to create advocates across the country by providing resources and education on our Advocacy Center. If you are interested in learning more or have a story to share about a physical activity advocate that helped your program, email Advocacy@ACEfitness.org.