Laurie Wilcox, administrative assistant at Essex Elementary School and VEHI PATH wellness champion extraordinaire for the Westford-Essex school district, was beaming with joy when we greeted her on her home turf. Above her chair and desk dangled multiple paper rocks and stars, created by her colleagues as a way to honor her selection as a Wellness Rock Star.
Colleagues describe Wilcox as soulful. “She keeps all of us in her care. She is my sounding board. She is always there to smile, laugh, cry, support or hug me,” were all statements we heard during our visit. “My passion is to help people learn about the value of exercise and change negative behaviors to positive behaviors,” said Wilcox. “The best part about serving as a wellness champion is that I have been able to inspire others to invest in a healthier lifestyle.” Over the past year, Wilcox lost a significant amount of weight, incorporating the methodology espoused by Haylie Pomroy, a celebrity nutritionist and wellness consultant. Several of Wilcox’s peers followed in her footsteps and found similar success. She also promoted participation in the Wellness Revolution, an eight week partnership between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and Terry Bicycles designed to promote healthier lifestyles for Vermont women through cycling. “We had several participants,” she said.
Wilcox is skilled at organizing and implementing variety of employee wellness activities, finding resources and questioning the status quo. When she learned about Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont’s Accountable Blue program she asked how schools could become involved. As a result of her question, VEHI and BCBSVT designed a similar program for a limited number of supervisory unions and districts and the Westford-Essex district was one of the first Healthy SU recipients.
Wilcox defines herself as an individual invested in lifelong exercise, a portrayal that is certainly apropos. As a child and teen she was outside much of the time and played basketball on the Essex High School team. As an adult, she took up tennis with a vengeance and now plays two or three times each week and is part of mixed and women’s USTA s teams. Whenever practical, Wilcox dons her cycling apparel and rides her bicycle to the workplace. She delights in experimenting with ways to improve upon her fitness to see where it might take her. “During the past year, I added a bit more to my daily routine,” she said. “Every morning I now do 20 sit ups and 20 weight bearing exercises using small weights. “ I now have less back issues and more core strength,” she said and “ I’ve also been spinning on my bicycle.” Perhaps this is her warm up before she addresses one of the items on her bucket list - traversing Prince Edward Island by bicycle on the Confederation Trail sometime in the near future.