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The Wellness Council of the Upper Peninsula (WELCUP) became the first Wellness Council in Michigan in 1990. It quickly enrolled over 200 member worksites by the following year. The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) based in Omaha, Nebraska aided in the initial efforts to both attract an audience as well as provide the educational materials and expertise to run an effective wellness council. The first annual WELCUP conference was held in Escanaba, Michigan in November of 1990. Dr. Charles Kuntzelman, a nationally recognized fitness expert for children, was the guest speaker. The annual conference over the years has attracted many national experts, and as a result, several conferences were held at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. In recent years, WELCUP has received national and statewide recognition for its wellness programming ideas including "Get Moving U.P.," a physical activity incentive program and the "Eat Five" nutrition program.

WELCUP covers the entire upper peninsula of Michigan providing services in fifteen counties. These fifteen counties cover an area of over 300 miles, east to west, and 235 miles, north to south. Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron draw a continuous 1,700-mile shoreline around the Upper Peninsula. Within these boundaries the 384-mile-long peninsula stretches from Drummond Island to Ironwood, reaching 233 miles wide from Menominee in the south to Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The total population of the region is 314,155 people with a population density of 19 people per square mile.

WELCUP's mission is to encourage and promote wellness in the workplace and the surrounding communities it serves. Since its inception in 1990, individuals and agencies that have had an interest in promoting worksite wellness had run the council on a volunteer basis. The council has historically had 30-60 worksite members each year. Membership dues vary ($25-$100) depending on the size of the company or organization. Membership benefits include: bi-monthly newsletter, resource lending library, discounts to attend WELCUP workshops, "Get Moving U.P." Physical Activity Incentive Program, "Eat 5" Program, health and wellness website program, health promotion materials/newsletters, and National Employee Health and Fitness Day and Walk Michigan events.

In June of 1995, WELCUP applied for a grant from the Michigan Fitness Foundation to serve as a Regional Fitness Council. The Michigan Fitness Foundation was seeking organizations throughout Michigan that would be capable of promoting participation in physical activity on a broad scale. WELCUP's structure as a U.P. wide wellness council organization fit those requirements well. Because we became affiliated with the Michigan Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports, it was also our mission then to get Upper Peninsula residents "moving." We encouraged individuals to engage in physical activity and lead healthy lifestyles. Some of our past Governor's Council activities included: promoting the Governor's Council Awards Program, assisting upper peninsula schools with the Exemplary Physical Education Program (EPEC), and the ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaneously) Project. We maintained our status as a Regional Fitness Council through 2002. Because state funding was cut in 2002, we no longer served in that role as a Regional Fitness Council. Since that time, all eleven Regional Fitness Councils in Michigan dissolved due to lack of state funds. WELCUP was one of the fortunate ones to continue to survive on its own as a wellness council, and this, we believe, is due to our committed worksite members in the Upper Peninsula. Even though we're back to where we were before becoming a Regional Fitness Council - we have more knowledge and resources now at our fingertips, and thanks to our executive board members and the businesses they work for, for sharing in our vision and commitment to keep Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin residents healthy. These worksites allow their employees (our board members) to attend WELCUP meetings and workshops, and participate in WELCUP sponsored events on company time. They believe in the value of wellness in the workplace.

Now that the state Michigan Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports no longer receives dollars from the Healthy Michigan Fund to support the Regional Fitness Councils throughout the state, it has eliminated our capacity to continue to serve in this role as a Regional Fitness Council. Because of this cut in state funding, we will once again go back to a volunteer board, as we were before 1995 and serve mainly as a worksite wellness council. This will be somewhat difficult, but we know we can survive. Maintaining and expanding our membership will be crucial, as this will predominately be our source of incoming funds. Continuing to offer and expanding upon low-cost incentive programs will be key also. Two years ago, WELCUP created and developed its First Annual "Get Moving U.P." program. This program is a physical activity incentive program that area businesses and organizations can "build upon" from within if they so choose to. The "Get Moving U.P." program actually turned out to be quite a successful program for us in that it not only attracted approximately 2,000 participants to the program, but it kept participants committed to the program! The program was open to members and non-members alike, BUT we did offer stage incentives for WELCUP members only. It was like a program within a larger program. For members only, we broke down the 2-month (9-week) program into four stages. Members were required to complete a certain number of minutes of physical activity within a given time frame. If they did - they were eligible for cash prize drawings. The final prize was a trip for two to Mackinac Island. This year, the stage cash incentives were replaced with "Get Moving U.P." clothing items and an all terrain/mountain bike replaced the final prize.

Kelly Rumpf is the Executive Director for the Wellness Council of the Upper Peninsula and has ten plus years in health promotion and worksite wellness programs. Kelly also works as the Lead Health Educator and Team Leader for the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department where she works in tobacco prevention, community and school health education, and crisis and emergency risk communication programs. Kelly is a graduate in the Health Promotion/Wellness field from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has received certification in the Health Promotion Director's program from the Cooper Institute. She has also received certificates in the area of holistic health promotion, school health education programs and various other public/community health education programs. Kelly can be reached at rumpf@hline.org or by calling (906) 779-7234 for more information. Readers can also visit WELCUP's co-sponsored website at www.fitup.org and click on the WellNet link to learn more about who we are and the "Get Moving U.P." program.

 
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