Story by Stella Childress, Contributing writer
Health Matters for Students is a faculty, staff and student collaborative initiative with a mission to “improve, promote and maintain optimal wellness of the Murray State University community,” said Miranda Terry, the new director of the program.
The initiative will teach college students how to build healthy habits that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
The program was founded in 2008 with the help of Roger Weis, nonprofit leadership studies professor. The goal was to train Murray State students in good habits for the “mind, body and spirit,” Weis said.
The program had much success with a $7500 grant from the Kellogg Foundation, 76 faculty members involved and branches at other universities, but it dissipated when there was a shift in administration.
A reboot of the program under Terry started in April. It involves professors taking five minutes of lecture time to talk about health matters and good habits to form on topics such as depression, nutrition, stress, volunteering and alcohol.
Kimberly Whitaker, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, and student coordinator, has teamed up with Terry to update and revise the original presentations.
The presentations are “specifically geared toward class,” Terry said.
They are designed to be reflective and are focused on moderation, not zero-tolerance. After the spring semester, evaluations will be completed to determine how to make the initiative better.
Terry specifically bases the presentations around the seven dimensions of health: social, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, environmental and financial/occupational.
“If our [campus] community is healthy, it leaks to Murray. If Murray is healthy, it leaks to Calloway County; it is a ripple effect,” Terry said.
An important aspect of the initiative is the involvement of the faculty because having them involved “shows that they care in and out of the classroom,” Terry said.
Good health is more than physical health. In the future, the initiative hopes to add more topics like mental health and relationship violence.
Weis, Terry and Whitaker emphasized the reluctance of talking about health issues.
“I think a lot of students are afraid to ask or are embarrassed,” Whitaker said.
The program gives students an opportunity to learn about good health without them even having to ask, Whitaker said.
They said they hope more faculty will get involved.
Now is the time to build healthy habits, Weis said.
“It is one of the things that you can control,” he said.