The Heritage’s signature Well by DesignSM program fosters the eight dimensions of wellness: social, physical, intellectual, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and vocational.
And although Cheryl Anderson, wellness director at The Heritage of Green Hills, takes resident well-being seriously, she never takes herself seriously. Today she is discussing a part of the program that is very close to her heart: the fun and happy side of wellness.
On the surface, some of the activities Cheryl plans for the community may seem silly, but actually happiness and connectedness are elements that help people thrive. When residents feel that they are part of a community and have something exciting to get up for in the morning, they’re going to take better care of themselves than if they’re isolated and there’s not a lot going on. And that’s what makes Well by Design so successful
When Cheryl is asked, “What is unique about the wellness program?” she quickly answers, “It’s just generating excitement and fun. If residents are not laughing, I didn’t do my job.”
There truly is always something fun and lively going on at The Heritage. No wonder the participation rate of residents stood at 87% for structured programs when it was measured last March. Here are just a few examples of the out-of-the-box wellness ideas making life at The Heritage fresh and upbeat.
- The Heritage Hotties Cheerleading Squad
The Heritage has a highly spirited cheer squad inspired by the movie “Poms.” It’s a fun, energetic group of residents who love getting together, wearing colorful T-shirts, moving to the beat and shaking their pom-poms. “It’s about being involved and being with friends — that’s where the health piece comes in,” says Cheryl.
- African Drumming
The husband of one of the Heritage yoga instructors is a drummer, so he has started an African drumming group. “We have residents involved in this group who have never been in an exercise class,” says Cheryl. “It’s really good for them and they’re also getting aerobic exercise.”
- Wolf Adoption
As part of environmental wellness, residents have adopted a wolf named Spirit. “We have had our wolf for seven or eight years. And we donate to feed her,” says Cheryl. “We go visit our wolf every year.”
- Butterfly Raising
“We’re raising butterflies and sending them out into the wild,” says Cheryl. (They named a recently hatched butterfly Nancy — only to find out she is a boy.)
In addition to attending stimulating lectures and programs at local colleges and on campus, the residents share presentations of their life stories.
To create a sense of fun and excitement during COVID, Cheryl came up with many out-of-the-box ideas. “Residents are used to hanging out, they’re used to laughing and carrying on,” she says. She sought ways to recreate that feeling in a more restrictive environment. “I would go home and have epiphanies at night, asking myself, ‘How can I continue to make them laugh?’” She definitely outdid herself with these creative ideas:
- Socially Distanced Art
“I cut thousands of pieces of construction paper and each resident got enough pieces to make a six-foot chain. Before we opened back up, the chains would mark how they could be six feet apart,” Cheryl says. “When we opened back up again, we made a chain that went from the front door of the building down to Route 10.”
- Summer Solstice Snowball Fight
“I made hundreds of white yarn pom-poms and on the first day of summer, when it was 91 degrees, I put on a penguin costume, rode around in the back of a pickup truck, and had a snowball fight with residents,” Cheryl says.
- Hedgehogs in Hiding, Elves on Shelves
“I cut out little hedgehog bodies, and the hedgehogs jumped all around the community for weeks,” says Cheryl. “They would hide in trees, in magazines, in the library.” She also made “Elves on Shelves” that jumped around for the whole month of December. “It got residents to exercise, and have fun and silly occasions to make each other laugh.”
- Wacky Holiday Celebrations
The community throws pop-up parties to mark wacky holidays, including:
- National Duck Day. Residents had duck races in the pool and played duck volleyball with five-foot-long inflatable ducks.
- National Hat Day. The community had a Mad Hatter tea party contest to decide who had the best hat.
- International Women’s Day. This wine party for all the women in the community utilized products from women-owned companies, like Iron Horse Wine.
- Best Friend’s Day. Residents played games outdoors using decks of cards that helped them share special thoughts with each other.
- Missed Holidays Happy Hour. For its first happy hour in 18 months, the community celebrated all the holidays missed during COVID-19, from Halloween to Saint Patrick’s Day, dressing up in costumes and wearing wacky holiday hats. “They danced, and they danced, and they danced,” says Cheryl. “They had their lives back.”
Other celebrations have included National Daiquiri Day, Find a Rainbow Day, and Over the Moon Day. The community even celebrated getting the COVID-19 vaccine with a party: “The Crush COVID (Vaccine) Shots and (Root) Beer Party.”
“There’s been so much, I don’t even remember everything we did,” says Cheryl. “We’re always doing something ridiculously fun.”
Learn more about the Well by Design program here.