The Healthy Student Organization Program, which has promoted healthy lifestyles in student organizations for the past three years, has reached an all-time participation high and has nearly doubled since its founding to reach 36 organizations.
University Health Services initiated the program three years ago. Since then, the program has provided participating organizations with a toolkit, including nutritional guidelines, group workout ideas, community service opportunities and health and wellness resources on campus and around Austin.
“One of the best ways to be active or eat healthy is to hang around people that are doing that,” health promotion coordinator William Mupo said. “That is the power of this program.”
In the program’s first year, there were 17 involved organizations, and 24 in the second, Mupo said.
The program encourages student organizations to take an active role in ensuring the health and wellness of their members through a rewards system. For every health-related activity completed, the organization earns a certain amount of points, which determines whether they end the year in either a bronze, silver or gold tier.
At the end of the year, organizations are rewarded with prizes in the form of donations and student discounts based on their accomplishments and what tier they are in. Mupo said this year he and his student assistants, Emma Martin and Kacey Davidson, collected a total of $10,000 worth of prizes donated by local businesses.
Starting with a total of 12 points, outstanding organizations also receive recognition from Austin City Council. On Thursday, April 12, all 36 student organizations received recognition, including Texas Lady Birds, Texas Taekwondo and Camp Kesem, said Martin, a human development and family science junior.
“We got to go to City Hall and sit in on a meeting and receive a proclamation, which is really cool,” said Kiri Chung, operations coordinator of Camp Kesem and mechanical engineering senior. “Then we got to take a picture with some city council members and got an official award from the City of Austin.”
The program was able to achieve its goal of expanding the program by engaging not only with health-based organizations such as Texas Nutrition, but socially and educationally rooted organizations as well.
“No matter where the student organization stands in terms of if they are a fraternity or sorority founded in service, or if they’re completely rooted in health and academics, we found that across the board, they can all generally participate in the program, do really well, and even achieve gold status,” said Davidson, a public relations and communications senior.