Universities and colleges put priority on health promotion locally and globally
A new international charter, an outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges / VII International Congress, signals a challenge to universities and colleges to create healthier campuses and healthier communities.
“Universities and colleges must be exemplars of health-promoting communities,” says Deborah Buszard, University of British Columbia Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Okanagan campus, where the Charter was drafted last June. “The Okanagan Charter is a powerful call to action for post-secondary institutions to embed health in our campus policies and services, to create environments which support health and personal development, and to become communities with a culture of well-being.”
Alfonso Contreras, Regional Advisor, Health Education and Social Change, Pan American Health Organization, Washington DC, describes development of the Charter as “an historical moment” of global significance.
People from 45 countries designed the Charter to confront increasingly complex issues about health, wellbeing, and sustainability of people and the planet. The Okanagan Charter puts higher education at the forefront of this movement. Conference delegates pledged to take the Charter back to their countries and organizations to mobilize health promotion action on and off campuses.
“The goal was to strengthen a movement that was already developing for health promoting universities and colleges,” says Mark Dooris, professor in Health and Sustainability at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, “Integral to that was to develop a Charter that gives a sense of direction, a map of where we go from here.”
Aligned with the World Health Organization’s Cross Sector Action and Healthy Cities movements and the United Nation’s Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Okanagan Charter reflects the latest research and thinking in health promotion.
“Universities and colleges have unique potential as living labs, to develop, test and model policies and best practices that can be translated for use in other communities,” notes Tara Black, co-chair of the Charter Working Group and Associate Director of Health Promotion at Simon Fraser University.
“The Okanagan Charter is especially valuable because it is visionary, inspiring and also very practical, with an action framework that can be adapted to any campus,” says conference chair Claire Budgen, Associate Professor Emerita Nursing.
The Charter is available at: http://internationalhealthycampuses2015.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2015/10/Okanagan_Charter_Oct_6_2015.pdf
To find out more, visit: www.internationalhealthycampuses2015.com/charter-renewal
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