Public officers and other residents attended the Healthy by Design Wellness Fair on Monday at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park. The event kicked off Public Service Wellness Month. (Photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED)

Dozens of public officers and other residents were busy catching the “wellness wave” on Monday afternoon during the Healthy by Design Wellness Fair.

At one of several tents set up in the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park, the Wellness Centre offered free massages and health check-ups. Other tents, like the BVI Tourist Board and the Department of Disaster Management, handed out fliers and other resources.

Areas of wellness that were highlighted during the fair included physical fitness, rejuvenation and spas, first aid, health checks, nutrition, mental wellness, dental health, sexual health, physiotherapy, emergency preparedness, CPR and fire safety.

The fair kicked off Public Service Wellness Month, which will also include other activities like a Wellness Walk/Run scheduled tentatively for Oct. 15 and a scavenger hunt scheduled for Oct. 21.

The walk/run will be held in partnership with Office of Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Social Development in support of domestic violence awareness.

The scavenger hunt will focus on promoting mental and physical wellness and healthy competition. Teams will be required to complete various challenges to get clues and complete a course between Fish Bay and Nanny Cay from 2-4 p.m.

Weekday challenges

Also as part of the observance, public officers are encouraged to avoid meat on Mondays, to take the stairs on Tuesdays, to work out on Wednesdays, to stay hydrated on “thirsty Thursdays,” and to eat more fruit on Fridays.

“We have done this initiative annually,” Dr. Noreen Callwood-Lewis, the employee relations unit manager at the government’s Department of Human said in a press release issued Monday. “Before it became a Public Service Wellness Month, it was Employee Assistance Programme Awareness Week, and we just extended it. We are going to be learning more effective wellness habits and encouraging public officers to be healthier.”

The EAP is designed to assist public officers with mental health, according to EAP Counsellor Dr. Albert Thompkins.

“In addition to mental health, we also want to bring awareness to overall wellness — spirit, soul and body,” he said. “This month embodies that, in terms of having activities and different opportunities for the public service as a whole.”

Changing views

Acting Director of Human Resources Kaisa Penn said the territory’s views on health have been changing for the better in recent years.

“We have recognised throughout those last five years, more than we have before, that our health and our wellness are fundamental to who we are,” she said. “For this and other reasons, we recognise that it was very important as a Department of Human Resources for us to stop and say we need to make sure that public officers understand that they, as well as their health and wellness, are a priority, for the public service and themselves individually.”