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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Well U brings healthy lifestyle to campus

    Dr. Andrew Weil, director and founder of the Program in Integrative Medicine, addresses a Well U audience at the SUMC yesterday. Weil spoke optimistically about the future of health in the Tucson population and stated that Tucson is primed to be one of the healthiest cities in America.
    Dr. Andrew Weil, director and founder of the Program in Integrative Medicine, addresses a Well U audience at the SUMC yesterday. Weil spoke optimistically about the future of health in the Tucson population and stated that Tucson is primed to be one of the healthiest cities in America.

    A Healthier ‘U’

    Inspiring a culture of wellness among UA staff, students and faculty is the goal of a new program on campus.

    Well University, or Well U for short, is a partnership among several departments and campus organizations to promote healthy lifestyle choices in order to bring down health care costs, decrease the amount of chronic disease in the community and expand disease prevention programs on campus.

    The official kickoff of the partnership was celebrated yesterday with a wellness fair in the Student Union Memorial Center featuring massage tables, sushi demonstrations and keynote speakers such as President Peter Likins, UA professor and health author Andrew Weil and Mayor Bob Walkup.

    Well U is the brainchild of Faith Vance, a research computing manager at the Center for Computing and Information Technology, said Joan Schlimgen, a member of the steering committee for Well U and associate librarian at the Arizona Health Sciences Library.

    “”We are hopeful that we will be able to bring a deep commitment from the university to the Well U partnership,”” Schlimgen said. “”It was important for us to get Dr. Likins’ endorsement before he retired.””

    Vance began the grassroots movement to get the program started more than a year ago, bringing together groups of departments already working on health issues, including Campus Health and the Student Recreation Center, Vance said.

    The inspiration for the program was partly the rising costs of health care for employees, Vance said.

    “”In part, it was knowing that people have a much larger ability to affect their own health than they realize,”” Vance said. “”Our campus has a lot of resources to promote that.””

    Well U is currently funded entirely on donations from the organizations that are involved, but the organization hopes to receive grants and university funding once the program gets off the ground, Schlimgen said.

    “”In some respects, each of the members had to explain who they were and what they brought to the table,”” Schlimgen said. “”Everyone wasn’t necessarily convinced from the get-go that this was a good idea. It’s been slow going at points.””

    The kickoff event cost about $3,000, made up of contributions from each member of the steering committee, Vance said.

    “”Following this, when we look more into how we will put into effect broad cultural change, we hope to receive funding from research and grants,”” Vance said.

    Erin Searle, a Judaic studies senior, said she came to the event as a representative from the Hillel Center and was looking for program ideas and co-sponsors.

    “”Health is important on campus because it’s hard to take care of your own body when all they’re offering is pizza and McDonald’s,”” Searle said.

    As part of the Well U program, a farmer’s market will be held on campus, offering healthy alternatives to fast food, said Manish Shah, who runs the farmer’s markets at St. Phillip’s Plaza and Oro Valley.

    The farmer’s market, which is scheduled to begin in mid-October, will have locally grown foods and will work with the UA Department of Agriculture, Campus Health and the food services in the student union, Shah said.

    A location hasn’t yet been established for the market, but it is expected to be held each Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Shah said.

    Sarah Beard, a psychology senior, said she came to the wellness fair to explore some career options and to check it out.

    “”This is so important, because a lot of people aren’t making healthy choices day-to-day,”” said Beard, a personal trainer and fitness instructor at the Rec Center. “”Raising awareness about healthy choices is a good thing.””

    Likins lent his support to the program, saying that so much of our unhealthiness and chronic disease is a consequence of our own actions.

    “”Just coming in this room and gathering together makes us healthier people by sharing our love for each other,”” Likins said.

    Weil said as a culture Americans are getting progressively fatter, and as a nation, we need to start addressing diseases that are possibly linked with obesity.

    Walkup also commended the program and said that everyone needs to take charge of his or her own personal life to control the rising costs of health care.

    “”I’m pleased that I can be a part of this because I believe so much in healthy living,”” Walkup said. “”It’s a matter of health, fitness and a high quality of life.””

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