Students in the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Senior Leadership Cohort 4 class developed a community-based project called Health @ Edgewood and Aberdeen 4 Life (HEAL) and recently presented it during a Senior Management Association meeting. The project has the objective to change the workplace ethic in regard to exercise and health.The Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) Senior Leadership Cohort program is designed to create a self-sustaining leadership learning community that will serve as a catalyst for change to concurrently deliver individual, team, organizational, and APG community results.This senior leadership program, designed around the OPM Executive Core Qualifications, is designed to create and sustain a cadre of high potential managers at APG. The Cohort program brings together individuals from varying backgrounds and organizations and builds upon the foundation of the individual, deepening each participant's self-awareness and self-management so that they can become a more effective and productive leader.Members of the Cohort 4 class for the HEAL project include Dr. Angélique Scharine, senior research psychologist/auditory research team lead, at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED); Ray Schulze, chief of the Information Management Branch, Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC), Command, Power and Integration Directorate; Anthony Webster, chief of the Test and Integration Branch, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), Software Engineering Center; Jerry Linn, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA); and Tracey Hall, chief of the Human Resources Business Management Division, Program Executive Office: Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).During the summer of 2012, the Cohort 4 team, working with the Community Health Promotion Council and the CECOM Wellness Center, conducted a market survey to conclude whether the HEAL project would benefit the installation. HEAL's objective is to change the culture of the workforce here at APG making regular physical activity a norm."As members of APG's OPM Senior Leadership Cohort 4, we began our project by investigating what resources were available here at APG and determined that although many services are available, only a few employees participate regularly," said Scharine. "As we discussed the reasons that this is true, we shared our own experiences where we face time limitations and pressures that often lead to unhealthy choices. We determined that the only way to make a real change would be to at the organizational level. We need supervisors to understand that placing a priority on activity does not constitute a lack of commitment to the mission."Many alternatives were discussed. For example, they examined the limitations set forth in AR-600-63 that grants excused administrative leave so an employee can undertake a wellness program, but limits it to 6-month duration."There is considerable research that states that companies that provide time off for exercise have increased productivity and reduced costs, in terms of health care, absenteeism, and turnover," said Scharine.During the initial stages of the development of HEAL, Scharine indicated the Cohort 4 group presented their ideas to Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, commanding general, CECOM, who needed no convincing of the value of physical fitness and advised them to encourage participation in the new Army Wellness Center (AWC) that held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 24."He advised us to take care of each other and our workforce. As the AWC is introduced to APG, top leaders are being encouraged to lead by example as participants in AWC programs," said Scharine. "Our role is to promote the AWC within our own organizations; serving as a source of information about what it offers and encouraging our organizations to commit to healthy lifestyles."The AWC, which is located inside APG's Kirk U.S. Army Health Center, is open to military, military families and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians. The market survey helped the HEAL group understand the needs of the people at APG, and by participating in programs themselves, they were better able to promote the benefits to others.Schulze said the timing of HEAL couldn't have been better, as the Army Public Health Command and the Army Medical Department opened the AWC, and a lot of folks have health and fitness as New Year's Resolution goals."This new 2013 AWC program is designated to promote health and well being within the APG community, and is free to all U.S. Army civilians at APG," said Schulze. "Our Cohort group decided to market the AWC by setting up booths, presenting at luncheons, and just simply talking to everyone we know about the program."However, they knew they had to learn about the AWC, in-depth, before they were able to market it."We knew the best way to learn was to experience it, hands-on. Therefore, we joined the program, just prior to the kickoff, by having the AWC health care providers at the Kirk Army Health Clinic conduct an initial health assessment on each of us," said Schulze.Schulze said the team was amazed of how comprehensive the assessment was."Their courteous staff put us on an individualized plan to allow us to meet our health and fitness goals through regular exercise and the proper diet. The Cohort members are delighted with the program, and psyched to set the example and become healthier in 2013," said Schulze.Scharine echoed Schulze's sentiments and commitment to the workforce."We know that exercise is important for both our brains and our bodies," said Scharine. "We, of the HEAL group, have committed to promoting the AWC."For more information or to schedule an initial health assessment appointment, call 410-306-1024.