The Sandblog

< Back to Blog

Life is Like a Bowl of Jell-O

by Jennifer Carson ASEBP | September 28 2017

I’m into single digits. My office is almost empty of all my personal things and the day has come so quickly. Wondering what I’m talking about? It’s official—I’m onto my final days as ASEBP’s CEO. As I say my goodbyes to all of the amazing ASBEP staff, incredible stakeholders and colleagues I’ve grown close with over the years, I thought I’d also take the opportunity to share some Sandbox-related wisdom with you and to say thank you for all the wonderful wellness work you do every day.

Wait Until it Sticks

Back when The Sandbox—or The Box as I like to call it—was a budding idea in my mind, I pitched a hub for wellness champions in the workplace to anyone who would listen. I wanted the hub to help answer the question, “How can we collaborate and work towards better employee health?” Back then, people often told me that there was no appetite for something like this and that it would never work. It took four years of conversations before I got any traction. The whole process was like nailing Jell-O to a tree—frustrating but impossible to stop trying.

Lesson #1: Keep trying! Ideas take time and perseverance to bring to life.

Target Your People

Once the idea of The Sandbox started to gel, we needed to understand our audience—who would benefit the most from this collective knowledge? I knew Healthy Living Programs already existed but the defined “wellness champion” did not. And so, my team and I at ASEBP mobilized to get a clear understanding of who this group was and what was important to them.

Lesson #2: Do your research. It’ll help you in the long run.

You Gotta Ask

A few years back, at a Shaping the Future conference, my team and I were chatting with five superintendents and assistant superintendents about employee health and wellness. What made this such a pivotal moment for me was that each of them were true believers in employee health and wellness. They were living, breathing examples of what I was trying to ripple out to the larger community.

Lesson #3: Lean on those who are genuinely interested in your ideas to help you grow them.

Along with talking to our believers, we decided to ask the larger group—school jurisdictions and comprehensive school health partners across the province—about what would help make their jobs easier. Turns out they wanted relevant, timely, accurate, fresh, credible information and reminders on employee health and wellness. They wanted the whole sha-bang!

Lesson #4: Don’t underestimate the power of simply asking people what they want. It’ll give you great insight on how to translate your ideas into realities.

Stand Up for What You Believe

Around the same time The Sandbox picked up steam, ASEBP started refocusing the way we looked at health in the workplace. It was important to all staff that we were walking the walk, not just talking the talk! And so, for the last four years, we’ve worked hard to do just that.

Lesson #5: Be authentic. Sharing ideas you’re passionate about and believe in will have far greater influence.  

All in Good Time

It’s taken over four years from the idea stage until now and I’m proud to say that, to date, we have over 700 registrants, 740 E-News subscribers, 112 resources, over 90 blogs and countless forums bubbling with conversation. There’s a lot of content for wellness champions to work through and I’m elated to think that it’s helping you spark new ideas, talk to others in similar situations and create a lasting impact in your workplace.

Lesson #6: Dig in and start! It might take some time, but there’s no day like today to ignite your wellness initiative.

Onto the Next One

I wish all of you success in the many employee health and wellness endeavours that you get your hands on. One day you WILL nail that darn Jell-O to a tree and it will be glorious!

And hey, happy 2nd birthday, Sandbox! I’ll be waiting for that invite to the 20th birthday party in the years to come.

Jennifer Carson

As former CEO of the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan and the inspired driver behind The Sandbox, Jennifer truly grasps the many benefits of school employee health promotion in the workplace. Her talents are far-reaching and include writing her name legibly backwards while using her left hand and being terrified of bats.