Provider Health Spotlight on Jennifer Hockensmith

August 16, 2016


Saturday morning zumba group.Spotlight

Jennifer Hockensmith, Sr. Program Director of Child Development, Hanover YMCA Early Learning Center, Hanover, Pennsylvania

The Problem

A lot of the staff members at the Early Learning Center were not physically active. Jennifer was worried about their health.

The Solution

She decided to pose a fitness challenge to the staff. She knew the challenge had to be small and achievable—at least to start. Jennifer turned to the Toddler Teacher, who had a background in physical fitness.

How They Did It

The teacher developed a three-month plan for the Learning Center staff. Each week she set an activity goal and a hydration goal. Staff members were to work out in the cardio/weight room on their breaks and would meet on Saturdays for either a class or more cardio work. Their weekly results were posted on a bulletin board.

ELC_healthThe Results

A perfect score! The teaching team achieved 100 percent of their weekly goals. Jennifer was so impressed, she successfully lobbied the CEO to reward the teachers with an extra day of paid vacation.

The fitness challenges have helped teachers to reduce stress levels, improve their physical strength, establish healthy heating habits, and lose weight. Although the challenge has ended, the teachers continue to work out and support one another in their fitness goals. They also engage in more physical activity with the children in their classrooms.

On Jennifer’s Wish List

Two items:

  1. Money to enroll the teaching team in an online fitness challenge such as Wellspan’s “10 Pound Throwdown.” Participants can earn badges and take a virtual trip across the U.S. or the world.
  2. Collaboration with a nutritionist to educate both teachers and children on healthy food choices.


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Topics: Workforce, Health & Safety

Krista Scott

Written by Krista Scott

Krista Scott is an experienced child health expert working at the forefront of policy, advocacy and equity as the current Senior Director for Child Care Health Policy at CCAoA. For over 15 years, Ms. Scott has worked in public health and education, primarily in non-profit and government agencies, where she has honed her expertise in early childhood health, mental health, special education, program development and support and in using policies to strengthen practice. Ms. Scott has her bachelor’s degree in political science and her Master of Social Work with a focus on management and policy.