Director Cindy Ryan started at South Oaks Hospital 25 years ago, and says there has always been a focus and emphasis on wellness for its staff and the surrounding community. Now as part of Northwell Health, Cindy has found amazing opportunities for her team at South Oaks to bring Northwell Health’s dedication to wellness to the great outdoors through Project C.A.R.E. (Cooperative Activities Ropes Experience) and to South Oaks employees as a Wellness Liaison.
Since 1994, Project C.A.R.E. has been offering adventure-based workshops, facilitating groups to work, think, and learn together! These programs involve a variety of activities including group cooperative challenge problems, outdoor adventure low and high ropes course elements, and other physical elements. The level of participation is, at all times, up to the individual. “We refer to this as Challenge by Choice,’” Cindy explains. “Project C.A.R.E. offers a non-traditional experiential opportunity for participants to problem solve, learn to trust themselves and each other, understand strengths and weaknesses they possess within a group and how to succeed by working as a team.”
So how does Project C.A.R.E. do it? Let’s say a Northwell Health team is struggling with effective leadership or communication and is looking to schedule a program day at Project C.A.R.E. A Project C.A.R.E. team member begins the process by completing an assessment of their needs. Some questions we ask include – What is the familiarity amongst the participants with each other? Do they work directly together? What are the goals the client hopes to achieve? What are the strengths of the team? What are the opportunities for growth and development? The information we get from this assessment allows our C.A.R.E. team to create a customized experience. This experience includes selected initiatives/activities that foster opportunities for tools and strategies of effective teamwork to present themselves. The learning occurs through group briefings, metaphors and evaluative reflection to make concrete connections between the participants’ experience and the application to other aspects of their lives. “Aha” moments can present themselves for the individuals and the team as a whole.
The wellness initiatives don’t stop with Northwell Health employees. Project C.A.R.E. extends its outreach to other corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, youth programs, church groups, and camps. “Northwell Health’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of the individuals within the communities we serve,” Cindy added. Northwell Health has made wellness a priority for the entire health system, and that emphasis starts at the top. “Whether it be the Virgin Pulse platform that we’re using to help staff establish a level of sustainability for wellness goals, to the connection and support from corporate wellness,” Cindy said. “I really do feel, especially recently, our current internal infrastructure has been very proactive and supportive of promoting opportunity for employees to work on their personal wellness. They are 100 percent behind those initiatives. I feel I have a significant amount of support from executive leadership.”
Though there’s tremendous institutional support, Cindy believes that it’s up to individuals to utilize the resources at their fingertips and contact their onsite liaison — each Northwell Health site has one — with their wellness needs. “There is great opportunity for someone coming into the system from a wellness perspective. The Northwell Health system makes a number of resources available whether you need to focus on wellness in spirituality, fitness, nutrition, and even finance. Northwell Health has afforded its employees many opportunities and resources to make effective change.”
Explore wellness at Northwell Health!