Student Health promotion a community effort for 20 years

Emory Report | Feb. 11, 2013

The Office of Health Promotion in the Division of Campus Life recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the release of an anniversary film, historical Prezi presentation and the naming of 20 Health Promotion Champions at Emory.

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Faculty, Staff

The Office of Health Promotion in the Division of Campus Life recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the release of an anniversary film, historical Prezi presentation and the naming of 20 Health Promotion Champions at Emory.

Founded in June 1991, the Office of Health Promotion began as the Department of Health Education in Student Health Services with a single staff person and a mission focused on patient education. Over the past two decades it has grown into a comprehensive organization promoting student health through diverse and engaging multi-level strategies.

The office currently has eight staff members, five student employees and over a dozen student volunteers. Students are partners in health promotion, not just patients.

As part of their work, the student partners:

• create campaigns to prevent and respond to sexual violence through the work of the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention and the Sexual Assault Peer Advocates

• build a healthy campus community through the Healthy Campus Coalition

• merge creativity, social justice and the arts through visual design and performance to educate their peers

• use social media and film to inspire compassion and healthy behaviors in others (such as the Project Unspoken video series)

• gain skills to be health promoting change-agents in their communities now and in the future.

Staff in the office provide confidential consultations on topics ranging from sleep to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to sexual violence recovery and crisis management. Staff and student researchers track student health trends via the National College Health Assessment implemented at Emory every three years.

"Student well-being is at the heart of what we do," says Director Heather Zesiger. "Our population-level and public health approach allows us to engage with students throughout campus to merge their interests with efforts to protect and enhance the well-being of our community at Emory."

The office selected the 20 Health Promotion Champions for their contributions to student leadership and advocacy, faculty collaborations and curricular integration, their status as key opinion leaders and supporters in the administration, and collaborative efforts with multiple partners that have grown into sustainable movements.  

"We wanted to emphasize that effective health promotion is a community endeavor," Zesiger explains. "While our office has grown in size and mission and is thrilled to celebrate our anniversary, our success has been dependent on our relationships with students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents and others. Designating champions outside our staff was a way to acknowledge these vital collaborations to create a healthy campus culture at Emory."