Canadian universities are leading an international effort to create campuses that will improve the health and well being of students, faculty and staff.
The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Memorial University, Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge are the 1st universities to formally adopt the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. The charter calls on post secondary institutions to make a commitment to health and well being in all policies and practices.
We are committing an extra $1 million to support well being plans because people who study, work and live in environments that make healthy living a priority are happier, more successful and better equipped to manage challenges, said UBC President Prof. Santa Ono. I am proud of UBC and our partner universities for taking steps to strengthen our communities, both on and off campus.
UBC and SFU led the development of the charter with international partners from post secondary institutions, the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO . The six Canadian universities adopted the charter to inspire other institutions to follow suit, recognizing that universities and colleges can set an example as communities that advertise health.
The Okanagan Charter places well being at the forefront of a large range of programs and plans to support our university community, said SFU President Andrew Petter. SFU is proud to be a leader in the development of the Okanagan Charter, realizing our vision of being Canadas most engaged university.
Research shows that health and well being are essential to learning, retention, productivity, satisfaction and building a sense of community. Universities and colleges are in a distinctive position to advertise well being through education, research, policies and practices that may be worked on on campuses. The Okanagan Charter gives a common framework for universities and colleges to lead this important charge.
The newly formed Canadian Health Promoting Universities and Colleges Network, headed by these 1st university signatories, is working to advance the charter and support health promotion on campuses across Canada and globally.
Each institution has made individual obligations to enacting the Okanagan Charter on their campuses in different waysfrom campus wide mental health strategies, to developing campus spaces that support connection and community.
As part of its commitment to the charter, UBC will invest an extra $1 million to support well being on its Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. The financial support strengthens some efforts already underway, as well as rising mental health literacy through regular mental health 1st aid courses for faculty and staff members. it’ll also improve plans to support well being in classrooms and workspaces, and advertise active lifestyles with a stationary bike study space at UBCs Okanagan campus library and motion breaks throughout lectures.
The charter will advance SFUs Healthy Campus Community initiative. SFU was a leader in creating more supportive campus communities by building new spaces and re designing courses with well being in mind. Student health is important to their capacity to learn and get the most out of their university experience. A new resiliency course is helping students take ownership over their social and emotional well being.
Presidents from the six universities will adopt the Okanagan Charter the week of Oct. 31. UBC will sign the charter throughout Thrive, a week long series of events focused on building mental health for all. Thrive originated at UBC in 2009, and is celebrated at some number of campuses across Canada.