true University of North Florida education is grounded in a few core
will receive an incredibly well-rounded academic experience in a personal atmosphere. They will have access to the resources of a large university
while having unparalleled access to their professors and instructors. And their
health and wellness will be catered to and nurtured every step of the way.
The University has developed a
regional and statewide reputation for its focus on health — from its
community-engaged Brooks College of Health to its hardworking Department of
There are a number of inventive
new wellness initiatives students, faculty and staff can look forward to in the
fall semester. At the same time, the campus community will have access to a few
new physical additions to campus that will make living healthy far easier.
Intervention, prevention and wellness
The Department of Health Promotion, part of the Division of Student Affairs, has a simple mission — promote
the health and well-being of the University community.
The staff, however, has
put in a tremendous amount of work to make UNF one of the most health-savvy
campuses in Florida. They’ve worked on scores of initiatives to educate the University
on pro-health behaviors while providing quality health-enhancement services to
the entire campus population.
Purser, director of Health Promotion, said her department is supported by many
other departments and programs — Campus Recreation and the Brooks College of
Health, in particular — that share the same desire to help the campus community learn
how to live healthier.
“It’s as simple as this,
we want the people who come onto our beautiful campus to be exposed to health
and wellness from every perspective — physically, spiritually and emotionally,”
she said. “Health and wellness is important to the life of the campus, and it’s
even a part of student retention. Students who are healthier are better
equipped to attend classes and expend the energy to get the most out of their
The campaigns Purser and
the Health Promotion staff have pursued can be broken down into three separate
areas of focus — general wellness, prevention and intervention. Here’s just a
taste of some of the initiatives that have already taken place and others that students,
faculty and staff can expect in the future.
Healthy Osprey Nutritional Campaigns
Fruits and Veggies More Matters Campaign — Implemented to increase awareness of
the importance of adding more fruits and vegetables in everyone's daily diet. Handed
out free fruits and vegetables accompanied with literature on the importance of
One-Stop Nutrition Clinic — Partnered with a master’s student from the Nutrition and
Dietetics Program to offer student, faculty and staff a free one-on-one nutritional
counseling session. Also includes Lunch-and-Learn presentations and many
nutrition-related outreach services. Hired a part time Registered Dietician to
increase programs and services.
Healthy Choices Campaign — Partnered with
Chartwells in increasing awareness and educating the UNF community on the healthy
nutritional choices on campus. This fall will mark the launch of Balanced U, a
new program designed to provide the students with information and guidance so
they can make meal choices that are right for them. Chartwells will identify
foods that are healthier choices, as well as foods that are vegetarian, vegan
and contain sustainable ingredients. The program will also feature an online
tool allowing students to retrieve personalized nutritional information from
menus on campus. Students can also learn tips for the kitchen with a variety of
healthy cooking demonstrations and classes that will be available in the fall.
Throughout the year, Chartwells will highlight a different fun theme that
focuses on the benefits of healthy foods that help you study harder, feel more
energetic, stay well and look your best.
Osprey – Cruisin’ to Health Passport Program — The Passport’s mission is promoting
healthy lifestyle choices while giving students the opportunity to participate
in all our programs, services and events. Participants will earn points for
participation and receive incentives and prizes. The program promotes all the
wellness-related resources throughout campus and the Jacksonville community.
Osprey Living Learning Community — The Healthy Osprey (HO) Living Learning
Community (LLC) was designed to foster an environment that enhances the
development of a healthy body, mind and spirit. It's an opportunity for
students to connect with like-minded peers in the pursuit of healthy lifestyle
choices. Students will be able to live in a collaborative environment that blends academic coursework with holistic
health activities. The HO LLC also gives students the opportunity to
participate in activities and services in the areas of physical, emotional,
spiritual, occupational, social and intellectual health. Activities include
fitness testing, nutrition demos and fun in nature with our organic garden and
— A small sliver of campus land has been transformed into an organic garden featuring more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables. The transformation from grass to garden is occurring near the Parking Services Building along UNF Drive. Everything from tomatoes and watermelons to basil and bell peppers are thriving under the care of dedicated staff and volunteers. The garden, however, will soon be relocated to Lot 18 behind the University recreation fields to allow more space for it to flourish.
Shirley Assessment Center
—The Dr. Paul Shirley Assessment Center in
the new Student Wellness Complex will provide the campus with state-of-the-art
fitness and nutrition assessment, including blood pressure and body composition
screening equipmentand a highly qualified staff to help implement exercise
prescription and various healthy lifestyle choices.
on-campus and in the community
Dr. Pam Chally, dean of the Brooks College
of Health, said the University has embraced a holistic approach to educating
the campus population about health. She said the collaboration between her
college and Health Promotion shows that the University’s message about the
importance of health and wellness is being communicated through multiple
Additionally, the Brooks College of Health has
designated its own Living-Learning
Community (LLC) for the upcoming fall semester. A LLC allows students
with similar academic interests to take classes together and live on the same
floor in a residence hall, creating meaningful relationships with faculty,
staff and other students. The Brooks LLC unites second-year students
interested in pursuing health majors and ultimately a career in a health-related
field and develops their academic and professional skills so they can succeed
in the professional world.
UNF’s wellness initiatives, however, aren’t
tethered to just the campus. Chally said her college has worked diligently to
engage the Northeast Florida community in an ongoing dialogue about health and
Chally said UNF students from all of Brooks’
departments — nursing, public health, clinical and applied movement sciences
and nutrition and dietetics — are fixtures in the internship programs of nearly
every health-related business or organization in the region, including even
some on-campus health and wellness providers such as Student Health Services.
Some students have even helped design programs that engage
the community by utilizing the University’s wealth of on-campus wellness
For instance, a group of exercise science, nutrition and
community health students teamed up with representatives from the Nemours
Children's Clinic in Jacksonville during the spring to implement a childhood
obesity program with close to a dozen children from Nemours. The children
were supervised by students as they walked UNF's nature trail, planted an herb
garden and learned about the environment. They met weekly for exercise
tips, nutrition lessons and behavioral evaluations all directed by health
students and supervised by health professionals. The children were also
introduced to the culinary world by Hollis Wilder, owner of Sweets by Holly in
the St. Johns Center and a frequent competitor on Food Network. She instructed
them in how to cook a healthy meal and let them eat dinner in the nutrition lab
with their families.
Melissa Hartman, an exercise science instructor and program
director, said the program — tentatively titled Weigh Cool Kids
— takes a multidisciplinary approach to teaching children about health. Program
participants have their cardiovascular ability, balance and flexibility measured
while having their minds expanded about health and nutrition.
"It's a group effort to help them lead healthier
lives," Hartman said. "Catching them earlier on is the key because
having a concept of wellness from an early age can help ensure long-term
health. It eliminates the need of prevention and intervention services later on
down the road when they have a solid basis in nutrition and exercise. And the
students from UNF get a tremendous amount of experience working with the
The University is also sporting a few new
physical additions to campus that will help students, faculty and staff in
their pursuits of healthier lifestyles.
noticeable landmark to join the campus skyline is the long-awaited, 75,000-square-foot
Student Wellness Complex, which opens this summer. The $19.5 million dollar
facility is an all-in-one fitness and sports learning facility with everything
wellness advocates could desire.
stepping foot inside, visitors are greeted by a 32-foot tall climbing wall that
offers panoramic views of the three-level building. Three dedicated indoor
group fitness rooms and one outdoor multi-use balcony group fitness space gives
the staff of trained fitness instructors the opportunity to lead four different
Dorion Fitness Center, which encompasses about 27,000-square-feet of floor
space on the second level, is more than quadruple the size of the University’s
old gym and boasts an updated assortment of cardio and weight equipment. A
1/8-mile track on the third level level circumnavigates the perimeter of the
building and offers incredible views of the campus landscape. Health Promotion and
Campus Recreation will also have offices in the Complex.
Zak Ovadia, director of Campus Planning, Design and Construction, said
the Wellness Complex ties in aesthetically with some of the design flourishes present
in the Student Union. It’s also sustainable and green, a campus
requirement for any new structure.
“This building will be one of the largest and best-equipped wellness
centers in Northeast Florida,” Ovadia said. “It meets and exceeds the students’
needs for exercise and fitness equipment and gives the University a base for
wellness activities now and into the future.”
On the other side of campus alongside Lake Oneida in the pristine Robert
W. Loftin Nature Trails, another wellness-oriented project recently finished
construction. Built primarily of wood and natural materials instead of metal
and glass, UNF’s new ropes course will open to the campus community in the
AyoLane Halusky, chief ranger for UNF’s Wildlife Sanctuary, said the
ropes course offers high and low-ropes activities for participants. A group of
about a dozen staffers trained for two weeks in late-May and early-June to
acquaint themselves with each part of the course. They’ll be present for safety
purposes whenever participants strap themselves in and start climbing.
Halusky said the course, which has been in the works since 2007 and was
approved for construction by Student Government, offers individuals or groups a
physical and emotional release in a serene, natural environment.
“It’s about pushing yourself and learning more about your limits,”
Halusky said. “This can be done in the context of team-building exercises or just
on a personal basis. But this kind of exercise allows you to go to a place that
isn’t accessible in everyday life.”
University’s dedication to health hasn’t gone unnoticed by the outside
year marked UNF’s third straight Gold Healthiest Company
from the First
Coast Worksite Wellness Council, a
regional wellness-focused consortium that awards businesses and organizations
for healthy work environment, and presented by the Jacksonville Business
The Gold award, the highest honor bestowed, is only given to recipients
that are at the top-of-their-class for organizational policies, healthy
behaviors, employee safety, physical activity, nutrition/weight management and prevention.
And the honors don’t stop there. During the same award ceremony, Purser from Health Promotion came in second place in the Frank Barker Wellness Leader awards. The
accolades are also presented by the First Coast Worksite Wellness Council and recognize the efforts
of wellness leaders in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.
“We’ve gotten to
the point where UNF is synonymous with health in the community,” President Delaney said. “We have great academic offerings for health that are respected
throughout the state, our employees and students have access to a wealth of
wellness initiatives and health is at the top of the agenda for all of us at
UNF. This is a part of our campus
culture, and it will be for years to come.”