Embracing Wellness as a Way of Life
Photography submitted by the City of Mason
There are many definitions of wellness, but every one includes a proactive, deliberate process when an individual or organization achieves its highest potential. According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.” It goes across disciplines to encompass lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment. It is positive and affirming.
The City of Mason has long understood the value of thinking holistically about community wellness and has been thoughtful in developing partnerships that build and enhance its strengths. Whether supporting the physical, emotional, occupational, social or intellectual health of the community, Mason has pioneered new concepts and created a unique environment where both residents and businesses flourish.
Inspiring Physical Wellness
Located inside the Mason Community Center, the City of Mason’s partnership with TriHealth has brought a holistic approach to physical health and wellness through its physician offices, pharmacy and physical/rehabilitation therapy. Maureen (Moe) Swift M.S., Strategic health and Wellness Manager, TriHealth Corporate Health and Sarah Mayer M.S., Wellness Coordinator, TriHealth Corporate Health. Photography by Catie Viox.
One of the best examples of the city’s unconventional thinking about wellness was the expansion of the Mason Community Center in 2010. As the name implies, this 210,000-square-foot facility is a hub of activity and a wealth of resources. Planning has been intentional from the beginning, built in connection with William Mason High School, which allows for shared fitness facilities, as well as clubs and after-school activities. It also encompasses the region’s Senior Center, which includes more than 4,000 members who participate in daily social and fitness programming.
A community and its municipal structure can develop a vision and goal around a wellness culture, but much of the heavy lifting requires expertise in the clinical, research and practical application of wellness practices. Around 2009, Mason developed a wellness-based vision for the community. However, leadership realized it would be necessary to expand facilities and capabilities to achieve that vision.
In 2010, Mason partnered with TriHealth, one of the region’s leading health systems, which was a perfect match for both organizations to expand offerings and resources to their customers. TriHealth committed to growing Mason’s culture of wellness by designing a 31,000-square-foot medical practice inside Mason Community Center, which is home to more than 40 doctors practicing 19 different medical disciplines. In addition, the medical office contains a pharmacy and various outpatient services. TriHealth also offers physical therapy services, taking advantage of the center’s shared fitness space and equipment to provide strength and conditioning training.
This thoughtful partnership continues to grow and benefit the community. The collaboration with TriHealth enabled the facility to significantly expand its fitness floor offerings, add a rock climbing wall, fitness track and group exercise space, as well as a café, retail space and a post office.
In addition to the indoor amenities available, the city provides a network of outdoor green space and sports facilities to encourage recreation. Through thoughtful land-use planning and grant funding, Mason developed more than 17 miles of paved biking and walking paths connecting all major thoroughfares to the downtown area for use by sports teams, events, families and employees. It includes more than 300 acres of fitness-oriented parks to host families, sports teams and tournaments from around the region and globally.
In 2006, the Mason Parks & Recreation Foundation, a nonprofit organization run by volunteers, was created to raise private money to enhance Mason’s wellness lifestyle. The foundation accesses outside funding in the form of grants and donations. It also has ongoing projects to provide scholarships for area residents to attend recreation programs, as well as programs designed to raise funds through dedication of park benches and commemorative bricks.
A major project is the development of the Common Ground Playground, an inclusive playground designed for people of all ages and abilities, including those with physical, developmental and sensory challenges and/or sight and hearing impairments. Far from a dream, the Common Ground Playground is well on the way to becoming a reality. The city has provided 23 acres near U.S. 42 and Snider Road and the foundation board is working with sponsors, businesses and the community to raise funds to complete the project.
The wellness amenities continue at the City of Mason Golf Center, a public course that includes an 18-hole championship course played by PGA, LPGA and Senior PGA players over the last 30 years, as well as a driving range, two practice greens and a four-hole Academy course. Open to the public, the Golf Center also hosts special events, tournaments and golf outings, and can accommodate formal occasions, such as weddings and private parties at the CourseView Pavilion.
Robust Economics Furthers Wellness
Assurex Health/Myriad Genetics, a pioneer in personalized medicine to support mental health, has made Mason its global corporate headquarters since 2008, with three expansions and a state-of-the-art genomics lab located in the lower level of the Mason Municipal Center.
Mason’s dynamic business community, which includes many international headquarters, a thriving biohealth and digital IT hub and a growing advanced manufacturing and automation contingency, didn’t happen overnight. Again, the common theme of intentional, thoughtful planning, forging public-private partnerships and thinking and operating like a business contributed to building one of the strongest economies in the region.
One of the best examples is a mental health and technology company that originated in a humble strip mall with a garage door on the edge of town. Assurex Health, which employs more than 200 people, specializes in the study of the genetic factors that influence an individual’s response to drug treatments.
The company is dedicated to helping healthcare providers get the genetic information they need to determine the right medication for patients suffering from neuropsychiatric and other mental health conditions. The city saw the promise in the bioscience technology discovered through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic that led to the founding of Assurex in 2006. Through Mason’s partnership with CincyTech, Assurex forged a partnership with the city that has supported the scaling of that company onto the Mason Municipal Campus and beyond. Assurex Health maintains a laboratory that processes roughly a thousand gene samples a day.
The partnership is a model of collaboration and community building. The city recruits commercial-ready startups and establishes companies, emphasizing the Mason/Assurex Health partnership as an example of the benefits the city can provide. Companies such as Assurex Health provide knowledge economy jobs and educational opportunities that attract community students to consider the study of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines and careers in the fields of health and technology.
In 2006, Mason began working with the Lindner Center of HOPE to help fulfill its mission of offering optimism to people with mental illness. The Lindner Center is bringing clinical expertise to the region in diagnostics, treatment, education and research that also attracts advanced technology and collaboration. For example, through its commitment to translational research, the Lindner Center has been an ideal partner for Assurex Health and its Genesight product to support better prescribing for patients. This fundamental platform for scientific collaboration has fostered a unique environment where both the mental health business community and mental wellness thrive.
Mason’s innovative partnership with a commitment to community education is displayed with global automation technology partner Festo, a German multi-national company that relocated its North American logistics center to Mason, including an on-site Didactic Learning Center. For the past two years, Festo has committed to a partnership with Mason to dedicate a week in October to bring learning opportunities to area schools and residents. It’s called Mason Innovation Week.
Festo’s mastery of automation technology has been developed by studying and recreating movements found in nature and reapplying those principles to manufacturing automation processes. The engineers of Festo’s Bionic Learning Network have succeeded in deciphering the flight of birds. Constructed of carbon fiber and polyurethane foam, SmartBird only weighs one pound, yet has a wing span of 6.5 feet. It can start, fly and land autonomously with no additional drive mechanism. This prototype was one of two flying robotic animals brought to Mason to celebrate its partnership with the city and encourage exploration of science careers among students.
Community Options Incorporated (COI) is another partner in the culture of wellness. Founded in 1990, the company’s mission is “To assist intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals gain the experience and tools necessary for as independent and self-directed a lifestyle as possible ... ” COI offers a spectrum of residential, non-residential and vocational services for its clients and the community. COI president, Marc Davis stresses that all levels of the organization’s services are “person-centered,” recognizing the individual and that each person has different capabilities and preferences.
COI is most active in the Mason community through its connected services. These are vocational services that encompass job training, job coaching, job development, job placement and access to the work place.
Mason has jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the COI mission and they have made major strides to achieve that goal. COI provides services in Mason’s parks and facilities to help with cleaning, maintenance and various other capacities, such as customer service greeters at the Mason Community Center. The employment opportunities meet the very real needs of the community and provide excellent points of contact for employees who build confidence, self-esteem and a social connection to the community and its services. COI also finds employment partnering with local businesses such as Natorp’s Nursery and Harris Products Group.
A recent startup partner with a strong presence in health and technology is Include Fitness. In 2006, Ryan Eder, a student at University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), saw a man in a wheelchair struggle while trying to use fitness equipment. Recognizing the difficulty and inefficiency of that situation, Eder developed an idea that became his thesis for a revolutionary redesign. Early awards and recognition encouraged years of work with people from all facets of fitness, medicine, software and hardware technology to build a fitness platform to overcome the obstacles he observed. Include Fitness continues to receive national attention as its platform enters the market in 2017.
Diverse Social Wellness Scene
The Western & Southern Open, a stop on the men’s and women’s pro tennis tour, puts an international spotlight on Mason each August. Photo by Tony Wagner.
The Lindner Family Tennis Center is home to the Western and Southern (W&S) Open, one of the nation’s oldest professional tennis tournaments, established in 1899. CEO Elaine Bruening speaks to the partnership that has developed between the Mason community and the tournament.
“The tournament is proud of the fact that we’ve been able to bring the world’s biggest tennis stars, and literally millions of fans, to
Mason over the last four decades,” she says.
The tournament brings world-class tennis as well as exposure to athletics and fitness through a sport that provides lifelong enjoyment. The event is attractive to regional and international businesses for its global exposure, energy and accessibility. When not in use for the Open, the tennis center hosts other events that include the NCAA championships, professional beach volleyball tournaments, numerous national and regional tennis tournaments and many charity fundraising events.
Mason is considered one of the most desirable communities in Greater Cincinnati and the nation, earning that distinction from
Money Magazine. Mason’s partners are the fuel that moves forward the overall mission through their commitment, give back policy-making, education and programming. Much of the city’s progress and innovation is a product of the deliberate and dedicated work of people who believe in and act to instill a culture of wellness for the individual and the community.
“We provide an integrated, smart fitness and rehabilitation ecosystem that pairs cloud-based software, health informatics sensors, and inclusive fitness equipment,” Eder says. “Our unique combination of technologies transforms fitness and rehabilitation to optimize ease of use, efficiency and outcomes.”
Include Fitness has found a willing and eager partner in Mason. The company has strong ties to the Mason campus, which is home location for Include Fitness’s mobile laboratory and connects with all of the Mason resources that make up the wellness culture. The community’s willingness to work with an early growth company within the health informatics field demonstrates the thinking that will help entice other health and technology companies to the city. The Include Fitness platform, branded as “Access Strength,” is beginning production and one of the early installations will be in the Mason Community Center where people with all levels of ability will have an equal platform to pursue and maintain personal health.
The City of Mason Municipal Center is located at 6000 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, OH 45040. For more information, call 513.229.8500 or visit www.imaginemason.org.