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Peer educators implement first initiative for Healthy Campus 2020 challenge

Steve Shrenkel

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As a part of the Healthy Campus 2020 challenge, the Ashland University Peer Educators have designed a social media initiative for students to partake in, promoting campus wellness.

Dubbed the AU Campus Wellness Challenge, the initiative focuses on encouraging healthy behaviors for AU students using social media.

Deborah Sullivan, director of campus wellness, decided to bring the idea to Ashland after seeing it being used at Florida Atlantic University.

“We wanted to put together a challenge to help us reach our healthy campus 2020 goals,” Sullivan said. We got the idea originally from Florida Atlantic University and went from there to create the campus wellness challenge.”

The challenge is divided into three parts: Nourish Well, Move Well and Rest Well. For each part, students participating post a photo of themselves doing the health challenge on their social media using the hashtag, #AUWellnessChallenge.

Sullivan is hoping that the challenge will educate the campus community on healthy initiatives.

“We’re trying to educate our campus community,” Sullivan said. “This initiative is focusing particularly on students. We’re hoping they have fun with it uploading the pictures.”

The challenge is being lead by the peer educators themselves she said.

“We were able to get the program running because the peer educators were so committed and have a passion for this,” Sullivan said. “Whatever they needed to get done, they got it done.”

Information about how to lead a healthier lifestyle, including national data on college students from the American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment (ACHA – NCHA), can be found under each challenge tab.

“This is an evidence-based approach,” Sullivan said. “We need to stop and take a minute and look at ourselves and say what do I need to do to become a healthier individual?”

One of the researched statistics that can be found under those tabs include the lack off fruits and vegetables that college students get, she said.

“Only about six percent of college students get the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables,” Sullivan said. “That’s why for a part of the challenge we’re encouraging students to upload a picture of themselves eating fruits and vegetables.”

Malorie Anile, one co-chair of the peer educator program, is hoping that by using social media, the challenges will appeal to the campus community.

“We’re looking for students to use their social media platforms and post pictures of them doing the various challenges,” Anile said. “We want to bring out a community to do these challenges.”

Students that want to take the challenge should first like and follow the Ashland University Wellness page on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. After that, students can register online at www.ashland.edu/student-affairs/AUCampusWellnessChallenge where a google form asking for your name, class rank, major and social media profile will appear.

Once registered for the challenge, students have exactly one week to post photos of themselves completing the challenge to Nourish, Rest and Move. When completing the challenge, it is essential to remember to tag the AU Campus Wellness page using the hashtag.

“It’s always fun doing challenges,” Anile said. “It brings out a competitive edge in everyone.”

Another co-chair of the peer educators program, Priya Battula, believes that the challenge will appeal to students because of it involving posting to social media.

“Who doesn’t post pictures to their social media,” Battula said. “I think it’s fun!”

Every student can complete this challenge easily, she said.

“I think it’s a pretty simple and default thing every student can do,” Battula said. “If you don’t eat well or rest, you can get too stressed. That is a nightmare for every college student.”

Anile also agrees that the challenge can be easily completed.

“You should try this challenge because it can show you how easy it is to follow these things,” Anile said. “There are all these different opportunities on campus that students may not realize exist.”

Once the challenge has been completed, students are entered in a monthly drawing for prizes including; water bottles, t-shirts, car chargers and the grand prize of a Fitbit.

“You’re going to be entered into the drawing for some pretty awesome prizes,” Anile said. “You can be competitive with your friends to see who can come up with the cooler picture.”

The challenge has been ongoing since March and will be taking place until April 20 of this year. It will, however, continue into next year, with drawings continuing to take place each month.

“This will be carried out into next year,” Anile said. “Next year we’re going to try to become a student organization so hopefully we’ll have more chances to implement this on a broader scale.”

Sullivan hopes that kicking off this first initiative will make AU students excited about health.

“I’m hoping this will be a good way to reach our students,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully, they become excited about thinking about their own health and about how to make good decisions and choices in their lives.”

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