Healthy County Boot Camp breaks record

Annual wellness conference exceeded expectations with virtual format

By Melissa Porch

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More than 250 people registered to attend the virtual conference hosted by the TAC Health and Employee Benefits Pool (TAC HEBP) in February — a record for the conference.

Considered a hit among staff and attendees, the conference, held Feb. 11-12, provided tips on how people can make healthier lifestyle changes through getting enough sleep, eating healthier and prioritizing mental health, among other suggestions. The event included engaging opportunities for people to practice their yoga poses and an inspirational story from a Dallas County employee who lost nearly 200 pounds over the course of a year through healthful eating and exercising.

“Turnout was so high because of our wellness coordinators and sponsors in the counties and districts,” Kathy Davenport, TAC HEBP Employee Benefits Consultant for the Northwest, said about the conference. “They’re devoted to this conference and the Healthy County program, and they look forward to hearing what’s new. This conference serves as a source of rejuvenation for them.”

Healthy County Boot Camp Award Recipients

Iris Stagner Award: Elizabeth Vera, Nolan County Wellness Coordinator 
Paula Butler Award: Lorie Stovall, Wellness Coordinator for Navarro County
2021 Wellness Committee Award: Comal County

The 12th annual conference was a part of the Healthy County wellness program, which offers county employees a way to get and stay healthy.​ The program empowers employees to keep health care costs down and preserve the high-quality benefits Texas counties offer.​

This year’s event was moved online just weeks before the conference, and with a winter storm that affected most of the state, staff believed that this year’s virtual format drove up attendance.

“I’m excited that we had this amount of participation and engagement because it shows the counties and districts are in need of this information,” said Stacey Bruington, TAC Wellness Consultant for the northwest region of the state.

Resiliency was a common theme during Healthy County presentations. It was illustrated on the first day of the event, when the online platform experienced a platformwide audio issue. As the TAC Education and Events Services staff worked on a solution, Wellness Consultant Mark Zollitsch found an opportunity to continue interacting with attendees by demonstrating chair exercises and yoga poses.

“As we were waiting, somebody in the conference chat suggested, ‘Hey, Mark, why don’t you do some exercises?’ I thought it was a great way to keep attendees engaged,” said Zollitsch, whose impromptu workout was broadcast on the TAC HEBP Facebook page. “During the Facebook Live broadcast, we ended up with people in counties snapping photos of themselves doing the poses and interacting with us.”

Quincy Quinlan, TAC HBS Director, said he was pleased with the resilience of the presenters and audience for overcoming the technical challenges and continuing to stay engaged. 

He said this year’s conference was full of memorable moments, and attendees filled the chat boxes during each session, as they discussed the content and how they could apply it to their counties and districts.

A highlight of the conference was Vance Hinds, an author and Dallas County assistant district attorney, who shared his journey on losing 198 pounds in a year without surgery or medication.

“The biggest win of this year’s conference was seeing the purpose of the conference being fulfilled,” Quinlan said. 

“As I watched the chats and various sessions, I saw wellness champions being engaged and excited about the content. I also enjoyed the exchanges between the members. Conversations were not entirely driven by TAC HEBP staff; members were making it their own, uplifting and encouraging each other.”

A presentation by Vance Hinds received lots of comments from attendees. Hinds is an author and Dallas County assistant district attorney, who discussed how he lost 198 pounds in a year without surgery or medication.

“Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I can't express how much your talk has inspired me! I look forward to incorporating your rules in my life!” – Healthy County Boot Camp Attendee