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Maintain wellness during holiday season through Fitness Challenge participation

By Oliver J. Bell, TBCJ Chairman

portrait of Oliver J. Bell
Oliver J. Bell
The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. Homes are decorated, families gather together, and the spirit of giving and celebration is in the air. Along with the glory and merriment, come an increased number of holiday activities, gift shopping and extra traveling, all of which can add stress and tempt the best of us to overindulge or slack off on our fitness routines.

With that in mind, the second quarter of the Chairman’s Fitness Challenge emphasizes the importance of maintaining overall wellness during the busy holiday season. While we feast and join in festivities, I challenge each of you to continue a regular exercise program and to eat healthy, appropriate amounts in spite of the rush, stress and food temptations. It does not need to be difficult, just set a goal to maintain, and then think twice about what you eat and do. Instead of indulging in a second piece of pie, take a walk. When eating out, consider a side salad over pasta or fries. You will be amazed how much better you feel after the day is over.

Over the course of the first quarter of the Chairman’s Fitness Challenge, many of you began “literally” taking steps to change your lifestyles and incorporate some form of physical fitness; early morning runs, brisk walks during breaks or lunch, or regular stops at the gym. Whether you are new to the challenge or actively fit, those steps make a difference, so let’s not stop now. More than 3,900 employees participated in the first quarter. This is a good start, and my hat is off to all those who completed the challenge. I appreciate your involvement and your support, and I look forward to us increasing participation in the future.

Particular recognition goes to the staff of the Parole Division’s director, budget and ombudsman offices for having the first quarter’s top percentage of participation based on filled positions. For their efforts, this group of participants received a personal recognition during the board’s December meeting, and their charity of choice, United Way of Central Texas, received a private monetary donation from the Board on behalf of the Parole Division. Among other notable achievements, the Jester IV Unit recorded the highest number of miles walked at 14,981, with the Windham School District second at 8,068.

In the months ahead, the Chairman’s Fitness Challenge will continue with its planned third and fourth quarter activities. As you know, the third quarter will be tied to the 2010 Texas Round Up, Governor Perry’s statewide fitness initiative. This six-week program promotes physical activity and well being, and culminates with the Governor’s Fitness Festival in Austin, which includes a 5K or 10K run/walk, a family mile and a health fitness expo. State agencies will compete with other agencies of comparable size.

For the last two years, TDCJ has been awarded a third place (the silver medal) for its employee’s participation in the Texas Round Up. That’s tremendous, but we can do better. In fact, this year, I want to challenge the Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the Governor’s Cup. In both 2008 and 2009, TxDOT won the Governor’s Cup, while DPS received the gold medal. It is now our time to gain the “top” honor. The only way to win is for all of us to sign up and participate in one of two ways. You can either complete the Round Up’s six-week challenge, which requires only 30 minutes of exercise (any exercise) five days a week, or you can volunteer to work during the Governor’s Fitness Festival. With team work, support and determination, I know that Governor’s Cup can be ours!

Further information on the Texas Round Up and the Chairman’s Fitness Challenge will be distributed through your Wellness Coordinators this spring. With the start of summer, details on the fourth quarter chairman’s challenge (Walk the Beaches of Texas) will also be circulated. In the meantime, information on the current challenge and on healthy life choices and lifestyles are available through the TDCJ Wellness Initiative (WIN) website at: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/win/.

There is no better time than now to enjoy a fit and active lifestyle. So come on, put on your shoes, find your mark and let’s get on track to enjoy a happy, yet healthy, holiday season.

First Quarter, Walk the Perimeter of TDCJ

The following departments/units/parole offices deserve honorable mention for having 100 percent participation based on the number of employees who signed up and completed the full six week challenge.
Department/Unit/Parole
WIN Coordinator

Acct & Bus Services

Lisa McGilberry

Commissary & Trust Fund

Roshanda Teamer

Correctional Institution Admin.

Kristina Gilstrap

Dep. Dir. of Prison & Jail Op.

Amy Beightol
Exec Admin-Austin Tina Rodriguez
Executive Director Britteny Skains
Rehab & Reentry Roberta Brazzil
Allred Unit Thomas McCaughn
Cole Unit Cindy Moore
Duncan Unit Veronica Minatrea
Glossbrenner Unit Melissa Perez
Gurney Unit Donald McAnally
Havins Unit Deborah Kilgore
Moore Unit Amy Reaves
San Saba Unit Marissa Ledesma
Sayle Unit Jimmy Dewbre
Scott Unit Donna Horn
Segovia/Lopez units Esparanza Noble
Skyview/Hodge units Randall Roberts
Stringfellow Unit Kristie Morgan
Wynne Unit Cynthia Gurrola
Region 1 Parole Frances Barefield
Beaumont District Parole Office (DPO)
Conroe DPO
Huntsville DPO
Longview DPO
Nacogdoches DPO
Texarkana DPO
Region 3 Parole Donna Peyton
Dayton DPO
Rosenburg DPO
Houton I DPO
Houston II DPO
Region 4 Parole Sylvia Delgado
Austin I DPO
Georgetown DPO
Harlingen DPO
San Antonio I DPO
Seguin DPO
Temple DPO
Victoria DPO
Region 5 Parole Victor Rayas
Big Springs DPO
Plainview DPO
San Angelo DPO


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