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22 May 2006

After taking just a few small steps to begin with, workers at a North Wales factory were soon nursing the lofty ambition of scaling Wales’ highest peak.

Staff at Kellogg’s in Wrexham progressed from walking in and around the factory where they work to making plans for a sponsored walk up Mount Snowdon.

With the support of a national initiative aimed at getting more Welsh adults active, employees also received a free health screen and pedometer to help them gauge their progress.

Kellogg’s has long been involved in trying to make its employees aware of nutrition, well-being and physical activity, running a range of programmes through its occupational health, nutrition, community affairs and communications teams.

But the company took its commitment to another level following the results of the free health screening. Having identified employees ‘at risk’ from coronary heart disease and high levels of inactivity’ Kellogg’s is now focussing its efforts on physical activity over the next 12 months.

Offering its Wrexham team even more opportunities to improve their physical health, its Fit for Life project is supported by Wrexham County Borough Council’s Health Promotion Team, Groundwork and the Sports Council for Wales.

Aimed at identifying workplace ‘champions’ to lead low level physical activity sessions for colleagues, Kellogg’s initially targeted one employee who was keen to lose weight because of associated health problems.

He set out to discover how walking could be introduced into his shift pattern and how the same number of steps could be maintained outside work on his days off – and is now encouraging colleagues to introduce more walking into their working day.

And for those who are not swayed by gentle colleague encouragement, a healthy dose of competition has given the push needed to up activity levels. A six-team inter-shift pedometer test is challenging staff to walk around the world – or at least the equivalent distance - with key cities mapped out to monitor progress. And while they might be walking through Rossett rather than Rome and Gresford instead of Geneva, they’re still clocking up valuable miles.

With the opportunity to attend a six week course in mountain walking at Nantyr Outdoor Education Centre – part funded by the Sports Council’s Community Chest scheme - employees and their families are reaping the rewards of Kellogg’s commitment to creating a healthier workforce. A charity walk to Snowdon is scheduled, but the long term aim is to establish a family based walking group run by those who achieved their mountaineering qualifications.

Other opportunities for physical activity as part of the initiative include free use of the county council’s leisure facilities and the introduction of a five-a side football league.

With a comprehensive and successful physical activity programme up and running, the programme caught the eye of staff at the Manchester Factory. Employees across the border have since adopted the programme and hope to replicate Wrexham’s success.