Healthy Campus Initiative


As the Vancouver 2010 Olympics have come to a close, I believe Canada needs to focus on becoming a healthier nation. One way Canada can start to do so is on university and college campuses. While initiatives for healthier children are being placed in elementary, middle and high schools throughout our great nation, as a university student, I have yet to see such an initiative on campus. According to Statistics Canada, there were 609,051 students enrolled in college and 1,066,353 students enrolled in university during the 2006/2007 school year. In 2010, there are probably a lot more. Many more students will pass through the doors of these post-secondary educational institutions. However, if Canada adopts active lifestyle initiatives on campuses now, we will have a very healthy nation. Other countries have already instilled such policies in their universities and colleges. For example, at Texas A & M University in the United States, it is compulsory for all students to take regular physical education classes as part of their degree requirements.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has shown that regular physical activity fosters many benefits for individuals, including: increases energy levels; reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis; builds bones and muscles; helps maintain a healthy body weight; enhances concentration and academic performance; increases self-esteem; provides opportunities to spend time with family and friends; reduces stress; promotes relaxation; and develops skills in leadership and resilience, which are valuable throughout life. Each of these aspects is important for both the healthy development of the individual and the building of a healthy society. For example, in British Columbia it is mandatory for high school students in grades ten through twelve to participate in physical activities a minimum of 150 minutes per week (30 minutes/5 days a week). Why not include such a policy in Canada’s universities and colleges? Participation in physical activity will help the physical and psychological well-being of post-secondary students.

My question to you is: Why is participation in physical education class not a important/valued part of the curriculum in every faculty of the universities and colleges in Canada? I think this lack of physical activity for our students needs to be changed. The focus of post-secondary educational institutions is on academics, which is very important. However, participation in physical activity allows the students to promote physical and psychological well-being and to stay healthy. More importantly, it causes the students to be more well-rounded members of society. Every post-secondary educational institution in Canada is equipped with adequate athletic facilities. Why not make it mandatory for each student to take part in some sort of physical education class while on-campus? Such participation will foster their overall well-being. Students are very proud of the University/College they attend. We wear shirts with their logos and are proud to be ambassadors of our school. The students are giving their hard work, time, commitment, and hard earned money to attend these institutions. They are a valuable asset to the institution. Please help give back to the students by letting them know that you value them by helping keeping them healthy. If you put resources into making it a better environment for them, they will feel appreciated and want to be around for a long time (i.e. finish their degree and even pursue graduate studies at your school).

Many students are so stressed with the academic and financial demands of university/college they do not finish. Perhaps compulsory participation in physical activity (of many varieties) will be an outlet for reducing their stress. It is also preventative medicine and putting money towards this may reduce the visits and costs to counselors and psychologists which are needed by many students to deal with their stresses. There have been many studies looking at this.

I have extensive knowledge of being a student; therefore, I understand how much work students in general must fulfill.  I have taken many courses and fulfilled much research in many departments at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Through these experiences, I have personally benefitted from participation in physical activity on campus. Through intramural and team sports, as well as drop-in recreational classes, I was able to keep focused on my studies, while also allowing my university experiences to be well-rounded.

University and college students throughout Canada can also profit from such healthy benefits of physical activity on campus. Therefore, I want to help make universities and colleges healthier environments for the students and staff who spend so much time there. I would like to improve the policies of post-secondary educational organizations so that they can become stronger places for all students. There are many ways this can be done. For example, getting students more involved in their universities and colleges by participating in sports or drop-in athletic activities will make them better places and will increase their school spirit. Universities and colleges could offer pass/fail classes to their students. Also by making it compulsory, students will learn the importance of making time for themselves in a crazy life.

Let Canada be leaders as we were in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics with the most number of golds achieved by any country and show the rest of the world what is important to us.

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!