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Sunday, August 1, 2021

“Health Happens Here” initiates pilot program at UC Davis

In the next few months, “Health Happens Here,” a statewide health campaign, will bring hammocks and hydration stations to UC Davis to promote wellness and a healthy learning environment.

These projects will be funded by a $50,000 grant provided by The California Endowment, a statewide health foundation that has brought its campaign to UC Davis.

Having already established a longstanding relationship with The California Endowment, UC Davis approached the foundation a year ago to discuss health initiatives existing on campus and also expanding the project to the Davis community.

“Wellness is a holistic approach but education and knowing how to advocate for yourself when it comes to medical and mental health … that’s an important piece of a person’s wellness,” said Lora Jo Bossio, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

UC Davis is the first institution to implement “Health Happens Here” and hopes to continue the partnership beyond the end of this one-year pilot to serve as a model for other campuses. The program’s chairs include Bossio and Michelle Famula, executive director of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS).

According to the Community Health Education at UC Davis grant, its purpose is “to support a project that educates college students and staff in Davis on how social, economic, and environmental conditions impact health.”

The campaign serves alongside with UC Davis’ own Student Mental Health Initiative (SMHI), a three-year project funded by the California Mental Health Services Authority and the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63).

Additional programs launched under the SMHI include “Each Aggie Matters,” an online resource for open dialogue about mental health, and “Just In Case,” a mobile-friendly website that provides resources based on the user’s feelings.

Grant money provided by The California Endowment will install a dozen free-standing hammocks throughout the Quad beginning June 5 as well as hydration stations, areas to fill up reusable water bottles with filtered water, over the summer.

The hammocks were thought to be an innovative method to capture students’ attention in emphasizing a message of wellness and of the importance of rest.

“Students are so busy and they’re at a fairly healthy stage of life so the last thing students really think about is their health,” said Cynthia Spiro, development officer of Student Affairs.

The hammock concept originated in 2009 by ASUCD Senator Andre Lee. Recently, former ASUCD President Carly Sandstrom reached out to various students, SHCS and a Mental Health task force she created, who all supported the idea.

“I hope with this grant and our partnership with ‘Health Happens Here,’ we can influence UC Davis students to continue to improve their health and spread it to their families and hometown communities, particularly for marginalized and lower income individuals,” Sandstrom said.

Remaining funds will also largely contribute to the Student Health Ambassador internship. Training begins next fall, and ambassador roles involve gathering feedback from focus groups, providing wellness information and resources and educating in health insurance. Conducting surveys and monitoring focus groups will serve to indicate whether the outreach methods used were effective by the end of the one-year pilot period.

NICOLE YI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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