The Finger Lakes Area School Health Plan is getting a bit more social — which is to say the consortium that includes 37 educational entities across its namesake region of New York can now be found on both Facebook and Instagram.

On Facebook that takes the form of a private group called WIN FLASHP. On Instagram is a private account @winflashp, representing the Wellness is Now program.

Becki Bailey — who serves as WIN Committee co-chair and and Penn Yan Central School District wellness coordinator, as well as on the FLASHP Advisory Board — says the group behind the pages saw these as two widely used platforms that could help FLASHP reach a bigger audience, and quickly.

“Instagram is widely used by younger adults and Facebook by older adults — although there are people who use both, like me, for example,” she says. “Also, content can be created once and easily shared between both of those platforms simultaneously.”

Ken Foresti, a wellness consultant with Foresti Wellness Consulting, says the potential audience played a big role in moving to those platforms.

“I have seen other organizations use social media successfully because, quite simply, people spend a great deal of time on them nowadays,” Foresti says. “This, combined with people being overwhelmed with emails, the platforms are a great way to communicate in real time and for people to see what wellness content, programs, services and initiatives are going on.”

In the early going, the pages have been used to post information regarding wellness activities member districts have held during quarantine, as well as information on plant-based nutrition, according to Bailey. Going forward, they will largely be used to disseminate information to members in an additional manner.

“The content posted on these pages represent best practices in employee wellness programming as created by the FLASHP wellness coordinators and their school/college-based teams,” Bailey says. “It’s simply another platform for sharing this information with members across the consortium.”

Lexi Ginther, of Smola Consulting, is an administrator for both FLASHP pages, admitting people to the groups, overseeing comments and posts, and creating content for them. Wellness coordinators and a colleague at Smola are providing success stories from programs implemented by the districts, she explains.

“We also have the ability to promote wellness at any time through our social media pages, whether it’s healthy recipes, educational videos, even a motivating picture or quote,” she says. “Having a presence on social media will allow us to keep wellness top of mind by always having this information accessible.

“People are using social media regularly anyway, so why not use it to our advantage as another way of encouraging people to nurture their overall wellness?”

Smola Consulting’s wellness team member Jennifer Noce adds that the plan is to post information a couple days a week to get information to members quickly.

“It’s just another way to get everybody’s attention,” Noce says. “They should keep an eye out for new and interesting events to keep them and their families well.”

Bailey says the group also has considered using the platforms in conjunction with wellness challenges or events taking place across the consortium but will assess the response to the pages before further exploring those possibilities.

“We will see how people engage with the sites and determine if it’s an effective way of sharing information and engaging members as we move forward,” Bailey explains.

Todd Isaman, a physical education teacher at Keshequa Intermediate School and WIN Committee co-chair, was part of the group that set up the social media presence. Isaman’s hopes for the program are simple.

“I am hoping that these platforms can give an increased spotlight on FLASHP and all the amazing things that are being done,” he says.

Foresti says the platforms will ideally improve real-time communication, especially when schools are not in session. He also hopes they will increase engagement and participation in the programs offered by FLASHP by both employees and their families.

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