LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2018) — In an effort to educate University of Kentucky students on how to lead a healthy and responsible life on campus and beyond, the Wellness Center's Student Wellness Ambassadors (SWA) hope to make a difference in students' lives by providing them with quality, research-based information.
Their mission is to inform students on all aspects of wellness on topics ranging from stress reduction, drug and alcohol intervention and prevention, and general well-being to promote healthy and holistic lifestyle decisions.
In a 2015 study done by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, research found that between 2009 and 2015, the number of students visiting college counseling centers nationally increased by 30 percent, while enrollment grew by less than 6 percent. With the increase in demand for counselors and information, these highly motivated, well-trained Student Wellness Ambassadors are able to support the university staff by connecting students to campus wellness resources.
"We hire our SWA through an application and interview process," said Courtney Hoffman, program coordinator for the SWA. "In August, the SWA went through a weeklong training, in which they completed the NASPA (Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education) Certified Peer Education training. SWA participated in the first 'Well Kentucky Training Day,' which consisted of multiple presentations and trainings from several wellness departments across campus."
With the program moving into its eighth year on campus, their presence has made quite the impact on the students at the university.
"One of the larger initiatives SWA has been working on this year is encouraging their peers and other students to visit wellkentucky.org. Since the start of the school year we have had over 5,000 visits to the site," Hoffman said. "As the SWA program continues to grow and develop, our hope is that their impact increases as well."
Through programs like the SWA, the Wellness Center is taking huge leaps forward in providing ample support to students who want to educate themselves on how to lead a healthier lifestyle.
One of 12 SWA on campus, Karmen Loehr, a biology sophomore, is a first year SWA. Originally interested in being involved in events on campus, she realized being a SWA was much more than their events. She knows their work is making a real difference.
"It’s great to hear that I’ve given students new information that could possibly be beneficial to their health and wellness," Loehr said. " Most of all though, I enjoy our time out on campus to just give a friendly smile. While wearing a Student Wellness Ambassador shirt or jacket, I am always extra friendly and open because I know that students will recognize our organization and remember that we are here for them as friends too, not just event workers."
UK's Student Wellness Ambassador program is one of several programs in the area of student wellness made possible by gifts from the Brown-Forman Corp. Since 2002, Brown-Forman has invested more than $1.5 million in support of wellness initiatives at UK, helping create a better learning and working environment for students and employees.
Students who would like to learn more about the SWA program can contact Courtney Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested should have a passion for holistic well-being and an interest in supporting and promoting healthy behaviors. They should also be interested in helping their peers and connecting them to all of UK’s wellness resources, as well as resources in the Lexington community.
The SWA are housed in the Student Wellness Center located on the second level of the Johnson Center. For more information on the SWA visit: www.uky.edu/recwell/wellness/student-wellness-ambassadors.
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