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UNF adopting Charter committed to campus health and wellness

The University of North Florida has formally adopted the “Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges” that places health and well-being of students, faculty and staff at the forefront. UNF is part of a cohort of seven universities in the United States that adopted the charter on Sept.1, collectively joining the United States Health Promoting Campuses Network (USHPCN).

Created in June 2015, the Okanagan Charter provides institutions with a common language, principles and framework to effectively promote health and well-being on their campuses. Health Promoting Universities aspire to transform the health and sustainability of current and future societies, strengthen communities and contribute to the well-being of people, places and the planet.

As part of the adoption of the Charter, UNF has evolved its already strong wellness initiative into the Healthy Osprey 360 program that prepares and equips the whole student by purposefully integrating all aspects of wellness with addition of two new paradigms: intersectionality and experiential wellness. Programs and services provided by Healthy Osprey 360 align with guiding University philosophies such as student centeredness, innovation and being “Uniquely UNF.”

The goal is for UNF students to flourish inside and outside of the classroom by using strategies such as:

  • Cultivating character, enhancing resilience and developing habits of mind and spirit
  • Adopting a holistic and comprehensive approach to mental health
  • Collaborating with UNF Academic Affairs to embed well-being programming into the process of recruitment, registration and retention
  • Fostering conditions that enable students to thrive and addressing behaviors that lead to languish

“Embedding health into all aspects of campus culture is essential and critical for student success, and UNF is proud to adopt this charter and be an important partner of the U.S. Health Promoting Campuses Network,” said Ashley Ballard, director of UNF’s Department of Recreation and Wellness. “We are committed to strengthening health and wellness throughout the University community and being a part of this growing global movement to transform  health and sustainability both locally and globally.“

Based on evaluations of the student body in 2021, the following areas have been identified as essential to achieving and maintaining holistic health for the UNF campus community:

  • Food and Nutrition e.g., food insecurity, body image
  • Mental and Emotional Well-being e.g., stress, anxiety, sleep
  • Physical Health, Activity and Movement e.g., sexual health, alcohol/tobacco/drug education
  • Fulfillment, Purpose and Resilience e.g., inclusive, access
  • Environment and Culture e.g., experiential wellness

By adopting the Charter, each university is making an institutional commitment to both the charter and its own strategic plan on how it lives out and implements health promotion on its campus and in the community.  By doing this, health-promoting universities and colleges improve the health of the people who live, learn, work, play and love on their campuses and strengthen the ecological, social and economic sustainability of their communities and wider society.