Be the change!

by Donna Sealy

Sharon Howell Clarke
Sharon Howell Clarke

There’s a saying that you should be the change you want to be.

That is Sharon Howell Clarke .

Worried about the trend she saw in relation to some of her co-workers, particularly the women, who she said started slim and got bigger, the Vice President, Operations at the Insurance Corporation of Barbados did something about it.

“Women come in they get married and they get comfortable. … and I guess because you’re cooking a meal every day for your husband and if you have children, for your children as well so you tend to just eat but it’s really worrying especially in the area that I work in,” said told LOVING ME.

Howell Clarke administers group life, group health and pensions in addition to individual life and health at ICBL.

In that department of the Roebuck Street City company she sees a lot which was enough to make her want to do something about it..

“When I look at medical claims – cancer, we had a couple of strokes, a couple of heart attacks, and diabetes – and these are all silent killers. So when I heard Professor [Henry] Fraser and the others talking about this epidemic, I could see it unfolding before my very eyes, I’m serious! And I thought to myself we’ve got to do something about this.

“When we hired a nurse …, I was so happy. … because then I could get some body to actually run with this. It’s difficult for me in my position to be doing all these things because you still have the bread and butter of the company to work in terms of making sure the policies don’t lapse making sure people pay their premiums … . Having a nurse now as ancillary help, it really makes a difference.

“We’ve been talking about this for the last 10 years, Barbados has been talking about this for the last 10 years but we’ve done nothing. So when they came up with his concept that made it a lot easier for us to do some thing with this,” she explained.

Using herself as an example, Howell Clarke said when she looked in the mirror she saw that she was getting fat and she could feel it.

“When I get to a point where my clothes can’t fit, it isn’t about buying a bigger size to me, I’m not doing that. My background in sports won’t allow me to do that. I know there’s a way to lose weight, you just go lose it. You walk, run and do what you need to do.

“For me it’s not about buying the next size up it’s about trying to get back to the size I was. I don’t like diets I prefer to look at my menu and see what I have been eating that I shouldn’t have.

“You know at Christmas you tend to pig out but for the last couple of years, I’ve come to the stage where I realised I’ve eaten most of those things already that I don’t need to.

“If you listen to centenarians they tell you they eat a little of everything and you noticed there are some things that are not in their diets, such as meat because we didn’t have a lot of meat back then. Every once in a while you would get fish, you would get protein, but you would have a lot of ground provisions and that is still the cheapest and easiest way to go.

“In terms of Barbados, we often talk about the cost of living and the cost of food but if you do to the market on a Saturday, or go to farmers’ markets you can pick up yams, sweet potatoes, cassava. If you eat them you don’t have to worry about eating rice.’ I don’t eat white rice any more … In my house I cook brown rice and white rice. I find my brown rice tastes better than their white rice.

“If I had known before what I know now, my son would have grown up eating brown rice and he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. He eats lots of vegetables. When he was young I gave him every vegetable there was. …,” she said.

That new Health and Wellness programme which is tiered, involves all the staff members and would see them getting fit and staying healthy.

It involves investigating and monitoring their 200 plus staff members.

Howell Clarke said she told their nurse, Lisa Brathwaite, that one of the things she “really wanted to do” was wellness.

“I think it is the basis of ensuring that our cost for claims comes down and since we’re running this in a methodical way and also using scientific methodology ensuring that we’re doing things and tracking them, I’ll be able to see what impact it has on my claims and medical claims costs for my staff,” she added.

The Life Division makes up about a quarter of the entire staff of the insurance company and the aim is to have a competition – named six pack- to give the men an impetus to work out and achieve a six pack in six months.

The programme is based on scientific methodology to improve the lifestyle of the employees. It will allow them to see where they are health wise and then “give them the tools to make informed decisions about how to adjust and attain optimal health and to be their best” at work and at home.

There are also plans to include clients as well.

About 900 runners and walkers took to the City streets on Monday in the pouring rain to participate in ICBL’s Family Fun Walk and Run.

The 5k and 10 k run and walk is the company’s fourth and from reports people of all ages did not mind the rain as they exercised.

Today we bring you a few more pictures from the event which was held on National Heroes’ Day.

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