The Office of Health Promotion (OHP) kicked off the fall semester with its fourth annual Healthapalooza event. Held on O’Neill Plaza, the event drew from a variety of Boston College departments and programs dedicated to health, wellness, and safety.
“We at OHP recognize that we’re not the only office dedicated to health and safety on campus, and so by pulling in our other partners who have programs and services to offer to students, we’re able to put on a one-day event that is both engaging and collaborative,” said OHP Administrative Assistant Betsy Cook.
Other contributors included the Office of Residential Life, University Health Services, Healthy You, Campus Ministry, University Counseling Services, the Women’s Center, the OHP, Campus Recreation, the Office of Emergency Management, Boston College Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety, Eagle EMS, and Dining Services.
Cook and her Healthapalooza co-director, OHP Associate Director Robyn Priest, emphasized the importance of activity in their planning. “The goal is not to just give out information but to engage students in wellness that day by inviting them to participate in healthy activities and learn different skills,” she said.
“The Emergency Management table had a bingo game considering what to do in a crisis, and they created an app that has BC-specific emergency response information,” Priest said. “Students also learned how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a real fire at the Environmental Health and Safety table, and how to use an EpiPen at the Eagle EMS table. These are practical skills they might need to use someday.”
“Some activities are of a more reflective type, where we engage students in thinking about their health, while other activities help to build self-efficacy and confidence in their skills,” Cook said. “For instance, the fact that you would know how to use a fire extinguisher should push come to shove, or hands-only CPR. Gaining familiarity and confidence in these areas is a great thing.”
The organizers even offered incentives for students who completed these activities. Dividing the tables from these organizations into four colors, they distributed passports to students entering the event and colored stickers to each table so that participants were able to keep track of how many activities they had completed. Those who participated in an activity at a table of each color were eligible to receive a free t-shirt, and those who participated in activities at all 12 tables were entered into a raffle to win an iPad Mini.
In addition to these official tables, Healthapalooza offered whole grain food samples and fresh local apples, as well as free five to 10 minute chair massages.
Because the organizations represented varied from faculty-oriented—such as Healthy You—to student-run—like the Women’s Resource Center and Eagle EMS—the event targeted the entire campus, as per the Healthapalooza tagline, “Healthy, Safe, Together.”
“It demonstrates that we as an entire BC community, including students, faculty, and staff, are really committed to health and to supporting one another in health goals,” Cook said.
In particular, having student representatives for these organizations helped to dispel the myth that only official organizations are concerned with these issues, Priest said.
“Healthapalooza is a great way of showing the student community that there are many student ambassadors of health and wellness on campus—many students who are models of healthy and safe living and who want to help their peers,” Priest said.
“That’s one of our goals—to engage student leaders on these issues and show the rest of the student community that there are many students who care about health, wellness, and safety and devote their time to trying to make the BC community a safer and stronger place,” she said.
Ultimately, they hope that the event is only the beginning of a healthy and safe year.
“Healthapalooza really kicks off our year,” Cook said. “It helps make students aware of our office and other offices so that throughout the fall and into the spring, students are hopefully interested in and engaged with our programs and services.
“We often collaborate with our partner offices on different events throughout the year, so this event is definitely the start of a collaborative year of programming with our community partners on a smaller scale,” she said.
Featured Image: Arthur Bailin