App State takes on Healthy Campus 2020


The Appalachian Online

Halie Hamilton

In October, Alex Howard, the director of the Department of Wellness and Prevention Services announced that Appalachian State’s pledge for Healthy Campus 2020 has been accepted.

The Healthy Campus initiative is sponsored by the American College Health Association and requires institutions to pledge their commitment to strategically promote specific health behaviors across campus.

Appalachian’s Wellness and Prevention Services department is still only 15 months old and this is the first time the school has taken the pledge.

“By taking this pledge we are telling our students, our colleagues and our parent stakeholder that we are serious about the health and wellness of our students and we are committed to measuring our progress towards a healthier and more well student body,” Howard said. “We will commit ourselves to this long progress of development and evaluation.”

Every year ACHA develops and implements a health and wellness questionnaire that colleges and universities can use to assess their campus.

Howard says students who participate are asked questions like “Has your academic performance been impacted by stress?” The information gathered through these questions is then used to set ten year goals to reduce any behaviors that are negative for health.

Healthy Campus is very similar to Healthy People. Healthy People is where public health professionals and experts from across the country sit down and study the prevalence across young adult and adult populations.

“We are looking at our entire campus: How do we create an environment where every student thrives and how do they achieve their optimal state of function?” Howard said.

The Wellness and Prevention Services uses this to benchmark and track the health progress of the student population on campus.

“We have very little data from this survey, next year we will implement it again in hopes of getting a much greater response rate and participation amongst our student body,” Howard said. “It is from that data we will be able to see if we are making progress or not towards these select areas.”

Students will be asked to complete the health and wellness assessments again this year, any data received will shape the programs and services provided by Wellness and Prevention Services.

“If students are anticipating services and programs that speak to their experience here at App, they need to participate,” Howard said. “The work we do is influenced by all of this, it is all driven by what we know about the students. Ultimately we will create an environment where all of our students are functioning at their peak capacity, but that is all dictated by what we know about our students.”

Howard said they have made an effort to have more services available for students regarding their sexual health.

“What I would like to see is that over the next four or five years, we see a decline in the number of students on our campus that report that they are sexually active and not using barrier methods,” Howard said. “The hope is that they are taking appropriate methods to prevent STIs.”

Story by: Halie Hamilton, News Reporter