Healthy Campus Week highlights campus resources

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Healthy Campus Week highlights campus resources

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Friday, Sept. 18, marked the start of the first-ever Healthy Campus Week at Saint Louis University and 25 other universities across the nation.

Healthy Campus Week is one aspect of Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Healthier Campus Initiative, which is the effort by universities to create a healthier environment for students by adopting guidelines that stem from nutrition, physical activity and campus-wellness programming.

“The whole week is just aimed to create an environment in which students know about resources to help them be well but also have access to opportunities to help them be well,” said Arathi Srikanta, the Program Director of Health Promotion and Education.

Srikanta has been one of the individuals responsible for planning the events taking place during Healthy Campus Week. The week officially kicked off with a foam party after the balloon glow in Forest Park, which was co-sponsored by Billikens After Dark.

Other events have correlated with the Healthier Campus Initiative’s focus on nutrition, physical activity and programming; including, an SGA sponsored shuttle to the Soulard Farmer’s Market, a healthy cooking demonstration, the monthly Frost 5K, Zumba in the Simon Recreation Center.

While the Healthy Campus Initiative guidelines focus heavily on the nutrition and physical activity, SLU has incorporated spirituality into the week.

“I will say at SLU we do a lot more regarding healthy body, mind and spirit,” said Eric Anderson, Director of the Simon Rec. Center. “So I think that spiritual aspect is something we expect to be able to have conversations with students about and to give them opportunities to explore that.”

In order to incorporate this spiritual aspect, a Labyrinth walk took place in the St. Louis room of the Busch Student Center. Anderson said that the Labyrinth walk allowed for students to walk in prayerfully or in meditation.

“Trying to think even more holistically about that is important for us here at SLU and I think you don’t necessarily get that at other schools,” said Anderson.

Anderson has not only been involved in Healthy Campus Week, but has also been spearheading the Healthier Campus Initiative at SLU. Once SLU became affiliated with PHA back in February of 2015, Anderson brought a committee together in order to follow the guidelines laid out by the PHA. The committee includes representatives from various organizations on campus.

Each group or organization is responsible for upholding several guidelines. For example, Aramark has agreed to ‘offer one wellness meal at each breakfast, lunch and dinner’ and to ‘offer plant based food option at every platform serving meat.’

“Obviously, for the food stuff, Aramark is taking the lead so they are going to make some changes in the things that they offer and how they present or market some of their dining options,” said Srikanta.

While Aramark takes care of the nutrition aspect, Srikanta and Anderson are looking forward to the future and how their committee might implement more sustainable transportation and an outdoor fitness system.

“We are hoping… to bring in somebody who will do one of those programs where you can pick up a bike and you have it for x amount of hours and then you can drop it off at another location or bring it back to SLU. That way you don’t need to own the bike, but you can rent it out for a couple of hours,” said Srikanta, who added that the city of St. Louis and Washington University were also looking to create a similar program.

For Anderson, one of his long-term goals would be to incorporate an outdoor fitness system into the campus.

“That’s one that we don’t really know what it’s going to look like yet,” said Anderson. “I’d say we are kind of leaning towards making it something that would look very natural and be part of the environment but I don’t know if that would be just down at the SLUruba area or if it would be integrated throughout maybe a walking trail on campus.”

For now, Srikanta and Anderson continue to focus on the remaining events for Healthy Campus Week, which includes free flu shots in Simon Rec. at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 25.

However, when the week ends, SLU Wellness will continue to uphold their guidelines for the Healthier Campus Initiative by promoting healthy eating, exercise and programming on campus.

“That is our ultimate goal,” said Srikanta, “to teach these healthy habits now… and really make sure that the students are leaving the university with healthy habits.”