The South Carolina Hospital Association would like to congratulate State Representative Neal A. Collins (R-Pickens) on being named Douglas E. Bryant Legislator of the Year by the South Carolina Public Health Association.
The award is typically given by SCPHA to recognize a long career of service, but they made an exception this year because of Collins’ bold initiative and critical impact on the legislature in his first two years as a lawmaker. Collins led fellow legislators in “A Healthier State House,” a campaign to make the state legislature a model for workplace wellness that he spearheaded with the help of SCHA and the Alliances of YMCAS.
Created through SCHA’s Working Well initiative, the campaign challenged state legislators and their staffs to make better food choices and increase their physical activity over the course of the year’s session. Collins and the campaign were able to recruit 25 senators and 92 representatives along with former governors Dick Reilly and Jim Hodges, Attorney Alan Wilson, and Superintendent Molly Spearman, as well as numerous legislative staffers. While personal information was kept confidential, overall averages for the entire group were announced at the start of the challenge and will be assessed again during the last week of the session in June, creating “healthy” competition among the legislative bodies.
After signing on to the campaign, participants used FitBit One activity trackers along with software and services provided by FitBit Wellness to track their success. The campaign also provided educational material, health assessments, opportunities for physical activity, and other resources to spur their success.
“Rep. Collins is a man on a mission to make the South Carolina State House a healthier place to govern and encourage his colleagues to set a healthy example for citizens to follow,” said Rozalynn Goodwin, Vice President for Community Engagement at SCHA. “He has been able to get legislators from both sides of the aisle not only signed up but enthusiastically engaged and more active. ‘A Healthier State House’ would not have happened without Rep. Collins as a leader and legislative champion.”
Collins didn’t just raise awareness of the campaign and help secure additional support. He also supported efforts relating to health over the legislative session, including CPR instruction for high school students and reforms related to standards for disability rights, child abuse and neglect, foster care, injury prevention, and health education in public schools.