Student Voices taking action for a healthier campus community at UBC Okanagan

If you're on the UBC Okanagan campus next Tuesday, you might be asked a few questions. It’s all for a good cause: creating a health-promoting campus community.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, marks the launch of a community consultation phase in Student Voices, a major research project to discover the community’s vision of a healthy campus. A second phase will see the creation of change through partnerships across all campus sectors. Researchers believe a unique opportunity for “getting it right” exists at UBC Okanagan as the campus is experiencing rapid growth.

"Large numbers of young adults attend universities and colleges, making campuses ideal for research on young adult health promotion, and prevention of illness and injury,” says Dr. Claire Budgen, Director of Health and Counselling and Associate Professor Emerita in Nursing at UBC Okanagan.

"The healthy campus or health-promoting university movement provides opportunities for students to collaborate with others in building knowledge and skills that help all members of the campus community manage their own health and contribute to the health of others and the environment."

Budgen is the principal investigator on the 17-month study, funded by a $49,900 grant from the B.C. Medical Services Foundation to increase understanding of healthy community development.

The study uses an ecological model that looks at people, environment and economy, and will see university students, administrators, faculty, staff and business persons voicing their health interests and questions, forming partnerships, making plans and taking action to create sustainable health-promoting change.

"On Tuesday, we’ll have about 40 students out getting input from the community via walk-about surveys and information booths," says study coordinator Melissa Feddersen. "We're encouraging people to voice their opinions through surveys and forums. Multidisciplinary students and faculty are assessing the environment using mapping and Photovoice, a technique that puts cameras in the hands of students."

"Currently about 80 students are working in the study and more are expected -- some working for course credit while others are volunteers," Feddersen says. "So keep an eye out for us and help make healthy sustainable changes to improve UBC Okanagan now and for the future."

Community questionnaires will be distributed at info booths set up in the foyers of UBC Okanagan’s Student Services Centre, Science, Arts and Gymnasium buildings. Student volunteers will be roaming campus with clipboards "walk-about surveys," says Feddersen.

When it's complete, the study will contribute to the literature on young adult health, student-organizational leader partnerships and student participation in healthy campus and healthy community development. The researchers anticipate that their results will be used to guide further research.

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