Montco company joins worldwide health challenge

HATFIELD, Pa. - July 27, 2012

About 1500 companies worldwide have signed up to reverse that trend. It's called the "Global Corporate Challenge" and a company in Hatfield is stepping up to the plate.

Roller coasters, Ferris wheels and even dinosaurs - the K'NEX company makes toys kids can build, play with and learn from.

All of their creativity can come with a price as many workers have sedentary jobs.

"I'm probably 60 percent in meetings and 40 percent at a desk working," said Danielle Melesku, K'NEX Creative Design Manager.

In an effort to change that, the company's president Michael Araten decided they would start walking.

K'NEX and their sister company the Rodon Group joined the Global Corporate Challenge and 56 employees signed up.

Each participant is given a pedometer and encouraged to take at least 10,000 steps a day - a number recommended by the World Health Organization.

"We have several groups that take a quick 15 minute walk in the morning and they'll walk again at lunch. They'll park their car in the back, leave out the front and have to walk all the way around to get to their car," said Lisa Christman, Human Resources for K'NEX and Rodon Group.

Christman says so far, many participants believe it has helped boost their energy and productivity.

"It helps refresh your mind, I think, to get out and step away from things every once in a while," she said.

For some, it's also sparked other healthy habits.

"Definitely, I mean I am eating healthier so that helps. I try to get my fiancé to go on walks with me," said Melissa Chapman, K'NEX Designer.

Araten says the wellness program can also lead to lower healthcare costs.

"We're seeing health insurance companies look and say the companies that have wellness programs that are real, we are going to give them better rates than those who don't. I think we are starting to see that ourselves," he said.

The health challenge is for 16 weeks. It's halfway through and so far everyone is meeting their goals.

For each employee who participates, the company will sponsor a student from the Community Partnership School to join the "Global Children's Challenge" which promotes healthy habits for kids.

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