Promoting balanced lifestyles on campus -

Promoting balanced lifestyles on campus

UBC campus community is urged to develop better habits


From Nov. 2 to 6, students, faculty, and staff participated in the first annual UBC THRIVE, a series of events promoting health and well-being among the UBC community. THRIVE was organised by the Department of Health, Safety and Environment (responsible for staff/faculty events and activities) and the Office of the Vice President, Students (responsible for student activities through Healthy Minds).  attended and interviewed participants at three of the week’s activities: Breakfast with President Toope, the Wellness Fair, and the Healthy Minds Workshop.

UBC THRIVE - Wellness Fair - Suzanne Jolly, Geoff Cox, Patty Hambler

Suzanne Jolly - Health, Safety and Environment, Geoff Cox, & Patty Hambler - Wellness Centre

On Nov. 3, to kick-off UBC THRIVE, President Stephen Toope and UBC Food Services Chef Andy Chan gave a cooking demonstration in which they shared tips on creating a healthy breakfast. Their menu featured caramelized pears and Vancouver Island goat cheese crostini as well as UBC Farm Swiss chard omelette with Qualicum spiced cheese. Following the demonstration, UBC Food Services provided spectators with samples of the menu.

UBC THRIVE - Andy Chan & President Toope

Chef Andy Chan and UBC President Stephen Toope prepare a healthy breakfast

At the Breakfast kickoff, I interviewed Suzanne Jolly, HSE Coordinator for Health Promotion Programs, about UBC THRIVE.

Q: Can you tell me how the idea of the first annual UBC Thrive came about?

A: I was talking to a colleague, Patty Hambler, who runs the UBC Wellness Centre and she and I were talking about really how in order to create change around health issues on campus it needed to be a community-wide type of event. We talked further about maybe making it a whole wellness week. And we started running that idea by colleagues and friends all over campus among students, staff, and faculty and everyone was really inspired by that and eventually we came together to create the THRIVE committee to really get this going.

Q: What are the benefits of using social media tools such Facebook, twitter, and blogs to share information about UBC THRIVE?

A: Being creative around the diverse, technologically, savvy generation of students, as well as staff and faculty is really crucial in our success in getting the word out about UBC’s events in general, especially THRIVE week. We have our website, which is actually a blog which we’re updating and having contributors from all over campus contribute information to that blog, so then we aren’t the only source of health and wellness on this campus. And so it’s really helping us diversity who we meet in terms of needs: who we communicate with, as well as who contributes, who has a voice in our community.

And I think that’s really important around social justice issues as well as health and wellness in general. It’s been a real essential tool for us to communicate with students, staff, and faculty and we are really excited to see, for example, that various faculties on campus have twitter sites and it’s not just the younger generation that are tweeting. And so, we’re trying to reach out in a variety of different ways because of that.

Via email, I also interviewed Hillary Woo, Healthy Minds Project Assistant at the UBC Wellness Centre.

Q:Why is it important to promote a balanced lifestyle among the student population?

A: A balanced lifestyle is important among students because there are aspects of our lives aside from focusing on academics that can contribute to our learning and success…A balanced lifestyle can help students better manage stress, a top health and wellness related reason for academic difficulty according to the UBC National College Health Assessment data from 2008. This in turn can improve academic performance.

Q: What is the take-away message for students from today’s breakfast cooking show?

A: That food affects our moods, and by starting the day off in the right way with a healthy balanced meal, we’ll be better primed for our learning.

On Nov. 4 and 5, the Wellness Fair, organised by UBC Wellness Centre, Counselling Services and the Department of Health, Safety and Environment took place. The theme was “Taking control of your health” and the goal was to provide participants with information through interactive-oriented booths and free health assessments that promoted healthy living and self-direction for a balanced lifestyle. Maclean’s OnCampus conducted interviews at the following interactive stations: Stress ball making, UBC Nursing students health assessment, and the BC Cancer Agency Prevention Program.

UBC THRIVE - Wellness Fair

Raphael Thomas, Guidance Studies Diploma with his stress ball & Adrienne Waunch, third-year science

Q: Could you tell me something about yourself Adrienne?

Adrienne Waunch: I have the stress ball making station for THRIVE Week and it’s part of the emotional, spiritual, and social awareness. Especially with midterms session going on right now, it’s important for students to have a way to relieve’s a fun, interactive activity that can get students working together and take a break from their day.

One of the things that THRIVE is trying to promote is for students to start taking regular breaks to take a time out to have tea or make a stress ball. Something aside from studying, because although that’s important, you need balance.

UBC THRIVE - Wellness Fair

Fourth-year nursing students Ka-Yin Fung and Grace Park

Q: Could you tell me something about yourself, Ka-Yin?

Ka-Yin Fung: We are UBC Nursing students and we are doing our community health rotation right now and part of what we are doing on campus is raising mental health awareness. Today for the THRIVE fair we are doing blood pressure checks.

UBC Thrive - Wellness Fair - Lori Petryk

Lori Petryk - Cancer Prevention Coordinator, BC Cancer Agency

Q: Can you tell me something about yourself, Lori?

Lori Petryk: I am a consultant with the BC Cancer Agency, I work in their health promotions. And basically what we are here to do is to talk about that 50 per cent of all cancers are preventable through the different lifestyle factors that you can choose to do. We know right now that the stats are 1 in 2 people are going to get cancer and a larger percentage of that, 50 per cent, is due to our lifestyle choices. So we are really trying to get the word out there that we need to start moving, eating well, getting our tests done that can prevent cancers from developing and taking control of what’s happening with our health care.

On the last day of THRIVE Vanita Sabharwal, UBC Counselling Services Counsellor/Community Development & Outreach Coordinator and Kaycie Hebert, an advisor at Student Financial Assistance & Awards organised the goal-setting workshop – Healthy Minds at UBC: Bring your best game & thrive. It provided participants with hands on tasks and participatory activities designed to provide direction for personal balance and share strategies for setting healthy goals in a social setting.

UBC THRIVE - Vanita Sabharwal - UBC Counselling Services & Kaycie Hebert - Student Financial Assistance & Awards

Vanita Sabharwal - Counselling Services & Kaycie Hebert - Student Financial Assistance & Awards

Q: Can you tell me something about this workshop?

Vanita Sabharwal: We developed this workshop as part of the Healthy Minds at UBC campaign to encourage the idea of balance. The more balance we have in our lives, the better we are going to do academically, in our work performance, and in our overall functioning in life. The workshop is the closing event for the week of THRIVE events and it is just a way of encouraging people that have tried different things though the week around THRIVE to begin to set goals for themselves and continue the things that they started or tried this week in their lives as a regular practice.

Ongoing information about the UBC Healthy Minds initiative is available from twitter, Facebook, and their blog.

Additional photos from THRIVE are available on flickr.

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