Standard 2. Socioecological-Based Practice
2.4 Build upon the inter-relationships and inter-dependencies among the members and systems of the campus and community.
When developing our Health Campus Initiative, we had a small group of individuals that were already committed to the idea. The majority of individuals came from our Division (Enrollment Management and Student Affairs), as happens on so many campuses. With a true vision of a campus-wide initiative in mind we decided to reimagine what this group could look like and the impact it could have on campus. Our vision was to include culture change and social movement across our campus. While the staff in Health Promotion have the most knowledge in the area of health promotion, health culture and Healthy Campus 2020, it was clear that we needed to pull on staff with more clout. Ultimately, we decided on a structure that utilizes high level administrators at a Steering Committee level and staff at a Task Group level.
The reason we decided on this structure is simple. We wanted a Steering Committee who had the ability to make change. They have to have the ability to pull and push on the right people at higher levels, but they also have the ability to designate staff time and resources to the Initiative. We will need that staff time and resources as we continue our work with the Task Groups. The membership of the Task Groups is often the staff that report to the Steering Committee members. Clearly, the Steering Committee members already understand the importance of the Initiative so they are more willing to allow their staff to give time.
As it stands now our Steering Committee leadership consists of the Executive Director of the Center for Student Health and Counseling with a vacant co-lead position. In the past this position has been filled by the Human Resources Director (who left the University) and our hope is to fill the position with someone who is not in our Division. I, the Director of Health Promotion, am the Healthy Campus Initiative Manager. While my role is to keep the Initiative moving and to develop the content for meetings, the co-leads really do lead the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee is comprised of Associate Vice Presidents, Executive Directors, Associate Directors, Faculty and students. Our Task Groups are made up, primarily, of the staff who report to the people on the Steering Committee.
For us, this was the best way to capitalize on our relationships across campus and ensure that our Healthy Campus Initiative was truly a campus-wide initiative.
– Julie M. Weissbuch Allina, Director of Health Promotion and Education, Portland State University
Our BEST SELF Initiative, based on the work of Christopher Peterson & Martin Seligman (Character Strengths & Virtues, 2004) and the VIA (Values In Action) Inventory of Strengths https://www.viacharacter.org/www, was designed to promote student success, health and emotional well-being.
Discovering and utilizing one’s BEST SELF allows a person to function at their fullest potential, leading a life with meaning and purpose. Our goal in implementing BEST SELF was to enhance the capacities of individuals, groups, and foster an engaged, caring and positive community. We wanted to help the individuals in our community to shift from “managing stress and coping” to promotion of health & well-being, and enhancement of mental/emotional health. This was a paradigm shift from teaching stress management, focusing on what was “wrong” or not working and fixing it, to a positive strengths perspective of applying our strengths to meet goals and challenges effectively.
The BEST SELF model is inclusive in its nature, encompassing all identities. This useful tool enhances self-awareness, self-efficacy, resiliency and coping abilities, increases personal and academic success, and improves health and well-being of our students, staff and faculty. It can be applied to personal goals and challenges, in interactions with others, and when working in a group or class setting.
Initial application efforts targeted individual use of personal strengths. As individuals were presented with the BEST SELF model excitement built quickly and many began expressing the desire to share how they were using BEST SELF and hear how others were using the model as well. The BEST SELF Circle for staff and faculty was born from this enthusiasm. Members of the BEST SELF Circle shared the information with colleagues and the BEST SELF dissemination grew, expanding participation in the BEST SELF Circle and increasing requests for training for staff groups and presentations to classes.
As interest has continued to expand, we have partnered with our Human Resources department to offer specialized trainings sessions for staff and faculty, helping increase both personal use and classroom application. This year students have been asking for a Student BEST SELF Circle. We have recruited enthusiastic students to facilitate this new Circle.
We have utilized varied marketing strategies to extend BEST SELF information throughout our Campus Community – class presentations, workshops, email, bulletin boards, webpage, twitter, tabling, and training to a wide variety of groups.
Our data tells us that 85% of students trained in the use of BEST SELF have used it to meet a challenge or achieve a goal. Students, staff and faculty now utilize BEST SELF in their groups, programs and classrooms. We have tried many health promotion programs on our campus. None of them have been as well received and as quickly embraced across our campus community as BEST SELF.
-Elva Munro, Director, Prevention & Wellness Services, Western Washington University
2.5 Advocate for campus, local, state, and national policies that address campus and community health.
For a number of years, I worked with a group of students on four tobacco-free advocacy projects. The initiatives followed a natural progression and included advocating for smoke-free bars, supporting a local smoke-free bar and restaurant ordinance, encouraging passage of a statewide clean indoor air act, and promoting a tobacco-free campus policy. The four efforts shared one basic objective: increase policies and practices that contribute to a healthier environment.
The students approached each effort by first building relationships and developing allies among key stakeholders. Students met with bar owners and local officials, including the town’s mayor. They also presented testimony at a local borough council meeting. When the students learned that state law prohibits local municipalities from passing smoke-free ordinances, they took their efforts to the state general assembly. Students started by meeting with local representatives and then traveled to the state Capital to meet with key members of the relevant house and senate committees. The students became well-known for their advocacy work in this area and were invited to present testimony at a state senate hearing for a proposed clean indoor air act.
As part of each project, the students implemented a range of activities to demonstrate widespread student support for tobacco-free environments. They conducted surveys, created several innovative and highly visible awareness campaigns, wrote letters to the editor of the student newspaper, and generated fact sheets. Their efforts were successful on multiple levels. First, the students contributed to the passage of Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act. Second, the students increased awareness about and support for clean air and tobacco-free environments. Third, the students, themselves, learned that sharing one’s “voice” can be a powerful strategy to improve the health of a community.
– Linda LaSalle, Associate Director, Educational Services at University Health Services, Penn State University
Standards in Action!
- Standard 1: Alignment with the Missions of Higher Education
- Standard 2: Socioecological-Based Practice
- Standard 3: Collaborative Practice
- Standard 4: Cultural Competency
- Standard 5: Theory-Based Practice
- Standard 6: Evidence-informed Practice
- Standard 7: Continuing Professional Development and Service