From its dining halls to its recreation facilities, the University of Houston is working to make the campus a healthy place of higher learning. Soon, it will intensify its efforts through collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA).
UH is among institutions across the United States to join PHA and its honorary chair, First Lady Michelle Obama, in the Healthier Campus Initiative. Through this initiative, UH has made a three-year commitment to adopt 23 guidelines focused on food and nutrition, along with physical activity and programming. PHA developed the guidelines in collaboration with some of the nation’s leading nutrition, physical activity and campus wellness experts.
UH and other institutions are being recognized for participation in this initiative during a conference this week in Washington D.C. Courtney Stein, wellness manager in UH’s human resources department, is representing the University.
According to Stein, the University already has started to implement some of the guidelines. Soon, the campus will have walking routes (with mile markers) on campus, he said. Other guidelines include maintaining fresh and healthy food options in UH dining halls, promoting water consumption, offering healthy cooking classes and making sure half of items offered through campus vending machines are healthy.
“We happen to be doing many of these things already, but we’ll also implement new programs and initiatives to benefit the campus community,” Stein said. “We live in an age in which there are increased cases of obesity, diabetes and hypertension. One’s environment plays a big role in his or her health. We’re hoping to create a culture of wellness that leads to healthier choices and behaviors.”
Stein has been at UH for just six months, but he’s proud to represent UH in Washington D.C. and attend this PHA event.
“It’s great,” he said. “I love this school and am pleased to put together a wellness program for the Cougar community. I’m looking forward to not only representing our university but learning what other institutions are doing and bringing back new ideas.”
PHA conference participants will conclude their trip to the nation’s capital with a visit to the White House. Stein hopes the First Lady will greet conference attendees. Regardless, he is gratified to see that health and wellness initiatives continue to grow on campus and across the country.
“It’s very rewarding,” he said. “For years, wellness professionals have been trying to create change in our country’s culture. To see an emphasis on health, wellness and prevention is fantastic, particularly with a stamp of approval from the First Lady and the White House.”
To learn more about PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative, visit http://ahealthieramerica.org/campuses./