Training and Retaining Program Personnel


AF Indiana Chapter Supports its Program Personnel
AF Michigan Chapter Provides Quality Training and Maintains Open Communication
AF Northeastern Ohio Chapter’s Success in Retaining Program Personnel


AF Indiana Chapter Supports its Program Personnel



  • The AF Indiana Chapter hosted a Volunteer Orientation Night. The chapter invited committee members, board members and program leaders.  After a general session in which the Board chair thanked the program personnel for their work, the groups divided into break out sessions. Program personnel pre-selected the break out sessions they wanted to attend. The choices included areas they were presently concentrating on or new areas of interest.


Key Learnings/ Tips


  • Remember that good retention starts with good recruitment and training.

    • Recruit with purpose. Determine what the task is that needs to be done first and then find the right volunteer.
    • Always recruit face to face and make sure the recruiter matches the prospect. For example, corporate leaders more easily recruit corporate leaders.
    • Be realistic about expectations and scope of the work program personnel will be doing.
    • Train well, and tell them exactly what you want them to do. Provide continual training to keep them engaged.

  • Follow the Golden Rule. (Do unto others…)
  • Just check in with them periodically to see how they are doing.
  • Don’t make any assumptions.
  • Cultivate the relationship with program personnel in the right way. You don’t have to make the work easy, but make it easy for them to understand the task.


Contact – Marva Stanford/Chief Field Operations - AF National Office/317-849-9832/


AF Michigan Chapter Provides Quality Training and Maintains Open Communication


To support its 350 leaders and instructors and six trainers, the chapter does the following:


  • Staff assure that most leader candidates are affiliated with a site and that site agreements are signed before training.
  • Staff assure that leader candidates are experienced instructors before training, especially for exercise programs.
  • Staff attend every training and teach the logistics section in the training.
  • The chapter has developed a standardized information packet for potential leaders that includes obligations to the chapter and the time investment involved.
  • Chapter staff members personally contact the leaders within two weeks of training to help them get started and have a face-to-face meeting with them once a year.
  • The chapter hosts leaders’ meetings three times per year across the state.
  • The chapter created a Web page for program leaders called the Leader’s Corner.
  • The chapter has a quarterly newsletter for leaders called Leader’s Link and an electronic newsletter for aquatic leaders called The Wave.
  • The chapter devised a regular system to alert leaders when their certification is expiring, as well as a follow up protocol.
  • The chapter provides leader and participant incentives, including a twice annual marketing and media campaign to support class launches, templates for marketing flyers, marketing brochures, t-shirts for leaders, discount catalogs and coupons for aquatic supplies, water bottles, bottle openers, magnets and other items.


Also see the chapter’s  Recruitment/ Starter Kits (AF Aquatic, AF Exercise, AF Self-Help)


Contact – Barbara Spreitzer-Berent/AF Michigan Chapter/ 248-649-2891 x 224/


AF Northeastern Ohio Chapter’s Success in Retaining Program Personnel


To support its nearly 400 leaders and 10-15 trainers, the AF Northeastern Ohio Chapter highlights the importance of training, keeping a good line of communication and having chapter staff out in the community putting a face to the AF.  Examples of training, communication and recognition activities include:


  • At each training, staff talks about logistics and data collection. Their success rate for data collection is 75 to 80%.
  • The chapter makes it very clear from the beginning what expectations are of potential leaders. The chapter only sends out one mailing about every six months for upcoming trainings. The mailing includes the program’s statement of understanding and position description.
  • The staff go through leader training applications very carefully and make sure leaders are affiliated with a site and that there is a letter of agreement on file.
  • If a program site serves as a host training site, the chapter allows one or two persons to come to the training free of charge. When the training is held at a trainer’s facility, the chapter allows the trainer to bring one or two staff members from the site to attend training for free.
  • Approximately a week after training, the chapter contacts the newly trained individuals.
  • The chapter maintains good communication with program leaders via site visits, and by sending program leaders AF brochures and discount coupons for first year of AF membership.
  • Chapter staff members maintain e-mail lists for leaders and send updates about programs and other chapter happenings.
  • The chapter Web site has a leader’s corner page.
  • After a leader training is completed, leaders are contacted approximately a week later.
  • In some cases, new leaders are set up with a mentor who is an experienced program leader in their area.
  • Chapter staff make follow up calls approximately three to six months after training.
  • The staff asks leaders to report the number of hours they have been teaching since training so they can identify those who are not teaching right away and assist if needed.
  • When sending statistics reminders, staff  include something extra such as a newspaper clipping or an interesting article about arthritis.
  • The chapter hosts an annual program leader recognition dinner free of charge. Approximately 75-100 leaders usually attend. Trainers are invited as well.
  • During the annual recognition event, the leaders receive small tokens of appreciation such as AF branded umbrellas, lunch bags, and copies of the Juvenile Arthritis calendar. Door prizes including donated items are also given out.
  • At the annual program, the leaders hear an educational speaker and attendees sit according to their program type.
  • The chapter has also sponsored professional development events such as a Leaders Expo that featured leader demonstrations, tips on using weights in class, marketing tips and other demonstrations and presentations.
  • The chapter has a Health Promotion Programs and Services Subcommittee with at least one representative from each of the evidence-based programs and made up of active leaders and trainers to discuss issues related to program delivery. Discussion topics have included how to keep the AF brand in the forefront and what leaders needs are.
  • The chapter discovered that leaders want to be recognized in front of the classes they teach and want a visible way to promote AF programs at their facility using something like a banner or poster saying, “AF programs offered here!” The chapter is seeking local sponsorship to pay for these items.


Also see the chapter's  Leader Expo Agenda and Recognition Dinner Agenda


Contact – Maribeth Doran/AF Northeastern Ohio Chapter/216-831-7000 x174/




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