Announcements Engage WashU Community Well-Being

Wellness Champion Spotlight: Atiqua Burns & Cheryl Lyons


Atiqua Burns and Cheryl Lyons,
Co-Champions in IM – Bone Marrow Transplant

Atiqua and Cheryl joined the Wellness Champion network in February of 2020 – right before the world went topsy turvy. Over the past year, I have been continually impressed by their capacity to work together and take an active role in connecting their colleagues with resources while promoting a (remote) culture of well-being.

What motivates you to volunteer as a Wellness Champion?

Atiqua: What motivates me is being surrounded by a great team of people who share the same outlook when it comes to wellness and incorporating healthy habits – to live a healthier lifestyle.

Cheryl: Research Administrative positions require a majority of the work to be completed in a sit-down environment working on a computer. I know the importance of physical human movement to maintain a healthy life and as a Wellness Champion, I can assist, guide, and hopefully inspire my team to achieve a more healthy lifestyle both at home and while working.

How has working closely with a co-Champion affected your ability to connect your colleagues with University resources?

Atiqua: My champion partner, Cheryl Lyons, happens to be a very seasoned wellness champion and a great resource. She is definitely the epitome of a dedicated wellness champion. She stays abreast of all the latest wellness information and she keeps our department well informed. On a personal note, she has incorporated several healthy lifestyle habits into her personal life, and she loves her role as a wellness champion!

Cheryl: It has been a beneficial experience to work with and meet with other Champions; to listen and learn from their positive suggestions and experiences with their team’s goals and ideas, as we help people implement healthy bodies and minds. Being able to work with Atiqua as dual Wellness Champions for our team has strengthened my friendship and working experience with both Atiqua and the team. Being a co-champion provides various perspectives for all to share and benefit from.

Are there any unique aspects of your department that make it challenging or rewarding to be a Wellness Champion?

Atiqua: Working remotely can be challenging because it’s hard to get your team motivated, remotely! One way I have overcome this is by sharing success stories from others. When you hear true testimonies from others or see before and after pictures of one of your teammates who have lost weight – this can only motivate others to want to accomplish their wellness goals. I highlighted one of our teammates, Matt Leucke, in my Wellness email that goes out every Tuesday. He first shared his story and pictures (of losing weight) on Facebook. I believe everyone was inspired by Matt’s story. I also invited Matt to share his story on our team wellness wall. So happy for Matt and his healthy lifestyle he has obtained.

Cheryl: It can be challenging to maintain engagement in wellness on top of our everyday job duties, and in a remote environment. So far only a few folks have opted to share their experiences, and it can be hard to tell how much people use the wellness materials and calendars that we send to our team.

How has the pandemic impacted your department and role as a Champion?

Atiqua: The pandemic has had a major impact on how I can interact with my team. Normally, during the wellness challenges, you can set up weekly face-to-face meetings or have a wellness happy hour after work, but with the pandemic and working remotely, this has been a challenge. I send out weekly emails to show my team that I am definitely engaged in their healthy wellbeing and try to keep everyone interacting with one another by using the chat on our wellness wall. I love seeing my team use the chat feature and root on one another!!!

Cheryl: Some people are more open to ideas when shared in person rather than by sending email reminders, etc. We miss the weekly walk breaks, in which people on our team could meet up for a 15-minute stroll together on campus. These walks together allowed time for physical movement and team bonding.

Tell us about some steps you’ve taken to foster a culture of well-being in your department.

Atiqua: I like to help my team think outside the box when it comes to meeting their daily activity goals. I shared with my team that my son and I are currently rehearsing for a stage play called the Oregon Trail. Rehearsing for this play has been the reason why I have been accomplishing my daily step goals. This play is a musical but does involve lots of movement, dance, and other types of physical activity. I love being able to do something fun and also accomplishing my daily activity goals during this challenge. I first started to only have my son be a part of the play, but I thought to myself, what a great way for me to have fun, be active, and accomplish my step goals!!! (It starts with thinking outside of the box).

Cheryl: I send out the Wellness Event weekly calendar.  I have had team members speak to me about health issues and I was able to direct them to the appropriate source at WUSTL for assistance. As I meet and listen to co-workers and if assistance or advice is needed, I guide them to the many wonderful wellness resources that are available.

Cheryl & Atiqua, thank you for your continued efforts to motivate each other and your work groups.

Circular logo with text Wellness Connection Champion Network

Become a Champion! If you’d like to learn more about the Wellness Connection Champion network and how to foster a culture of health and well-being in your department, check out our website: