Stillman College, first in Alabama to create a new type of health and wellness program

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Avery Boyce

Stillman College is making strides to foster a college community that focuses on the importance of mental and physical health.

The college hosted its first health and fitness day Friday at the Hay Center.  The day was a kick of event to to highlight the school’s new wellness program. Students participated in yoga classes, a fitness competition, hula-hoop contest and even made their own healthy snacks.

Director of Campus Wellness Christina Gladney said she was thrilled to see such a good turn out, especially for the yoga class that took place at 7:15 a.m.

“My goal is to offer yoga, hip-hop, kick-boxing, to have a variety of physical activities offered throughout the semester each year,” Gladney said.

The Going for Gold Initiative sponsored the event and works with HBCUs to educate students on cancer prevention. Stillman received a $100,000 grant from Going for Gold and is the first college in Alabama to join the initiative and use the grant money to create a wellness program.

“We are really creating a model for other universities and colleges, HBCUs specifically, on what campus wellness can look like,” Gladney said.

Stillman wants to be intentional about addressing students’ needs, which is one reason the program and event were so important. Dr. Gladney said Stillman’s Campus Wellness Program will provide culturally tailored health and wellness activities and programs for students, faculty, and staff throughout the year. It’s goal is to increase awareness of preventative health behaviors, provide health education resources, and offer programs and activities to facilitate healthy behaviors.

“Without health, our wellness, our education, our intellect, our finances, a lot of things are affected,” said Dr. Gladney.

Gladney said the college wants to make sure students have the resources to make healthy wellness decisions that will impact themselves and their community positively.

Gladney said the opportunity to promote health to young people is “invaluable.” She looks forward to expanding the program.

“The resources provided at 18 or 19 can greatly impact every negative outcome by the time (students) are 40,” Gladney said. “So, for me and our campus wellness committee, it’s about taking advantage of having our students in this fixed space and creating a holistic approach to health that goes beyond diet and exercise but also addresses the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as positive and healthy relationships and money management, through consistent programming.”

Gladney said the Eight Dimensions of Wellness framework established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will help Stillman’s Campus Wellness Program create timely and meaningful programming to address both broad and nuanced topics, like voter education and recycling, to increase engagement across campus. Buy-in will be critical to the program’s success for the spring.

The program also seeks to provide mental health and emotional supports for faculty and staff, especially at “high-stress, high-traffic times,” like the start and the conclusion of each semester, Gladney said.

The depth and breadth of programming also creates opportunities for engagement off campus with current and prospective partners, like banks that can provide financial literacy counseling and public health organizations that can provide nutrition education. Community organizations interested in partnering with Stillman’s Campus Wellness Program can learn more by emailing Gladney.

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