When students are healthy and happy, they’re more likely to thrive and graduate, according to Rock Doyle, assistant vice president for health and wellness at the Weigel Wellness Center.
“There is a correlation between bad eating habits and other unhealthy habits, such as smoking and recreational drug use, and dropping out of school,” said Doyle, pointing to a 2017 Kaiser Permanente study that links wellness to retention in K-12 students.
With this in mind, Doyle, who assumed the AVP position in August 2017, worked with Student Affairs to create the Orange Shirt Experience, a new campus initiative aimed at improving Buffalo State students’ overall health.
“Wellness now encompasses mind, body, and spirit and includes a general feeling of well-being,” said Doyle, who previously served as associate director of Weigel. “We’re making our focus with students a holistic one.”
The Orange Shirt Experience, which had a soft rollout in the fall with free yoga and boot camp classes, now includes several free exercise classes per semester, plus nutrition counseling.
The voluntary program begins with a physical in Weigel, followed by individual nutrition sessions with a nurse practitioner or registered dietitian who will map out plans to help students lose, gain, or maintain their weight.
Also, six days a week students can choose from classes taught by community professionals in yoga, boot camp, tai chi, a high-intensity workout called POUND that employs the use of drumsticks, and the meditation-focused forest bathing.
“We suggest that students attend two to three classes per week for optimal results,” Doyle said. “We’ll also have group meetings in the Counseling Center for students to track their goals and talk about how they’re succeeding and what challenges they face.”
In addition, Weigel has been working with Chartwells to list nutrition information, including calories, on its campus meals.
“An orange sticker will identify the dishes that fit within the suggested nutrition guidelines,” Doyle said.
Faculty and staff also can participate in the initiative’s nutrition counseling and exercise classes. “It’s a way of getting people on track and making good choices,” Doyle said.
However, his main focus is on transforming students’ health with the goal of having a greater number walk across the stage each spring to receive their diplomas.
“I see working closely with students to offer them healthy options and wellness training as a path to better retention.”
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