December 6, 2011

Georgia Tech Students Lead Social Change in Health

Georgia Tech Health Leadership Teams, Fall 2011
This week finishes up an amazing semester with Health Leadership Teams at Georgia Tech.  Over the last few months, the students pictured above have touched hundreds of lives on campus with activities and messages for healthier living.  They were all part of the HPS 1040 health class taught by the School of Applied Physiology under the direction of Dr. Teresa Snow.  All the students volunteered to design and launch health improvement programs for extra credit in the class.

The projects were "of the students, by the students and for the students."  After two class sessions on leadership and an additional three-hour training with me on transformational leadership and social change, the students launched their programs.  The programs included:

GT Beginners Fitness Club - Encouraging and motivating students to get active who don't know anything about fitness.  They went twice a week to workout in a no-pressure, fun environment.  Their ad headline was "Can't do a push-up?  Neither Could We!"  

Health Cooking Classes in the Dorms - Students came up with healthy recipes and taught their peers how to cook delicious, healthy food on a student budget at three different dorms.  One event fed fifty students!

Take A Walk In Our Shoe - Campus walking pledge for students to sign.  In just four hours of recruiting, more than 100 students signed the walking pledge and skipped using the campus buses.

Few Steps Can Make A Difference - Thwarted early on by administrative red tape to decorate stairwells on campus, students studied elevator usage vs. stairs usage and interviewed students about why they take one or the other.

Healthy Trunk or Treat - An off-site event for kids in Carrollton, GA.  A 500 person community event now has a voice for health.  Silly Bandz replaced candy and the team made pamphlets detailing the "trick" of obesity and diet-related disease and the "treat" of healthier living and what parents could do for their kids' health.

The Health Leadership projects not only empower students to create needed change on their campus to reverse the health crisis, they increase student learning in a STEM field and bring communities of students together around the shared value of healthy living for all.  You should have heard the stories of the fun students had together, right along side the vitamin and phytonutrient content of butternut squash.  It was an inspiration for all.

In taking the final picture, the students all said, "low-fat CHEESE!"

Stay tuned for the next round of Health Leadership projects.  The next step is expanding the model:  more students, more social change and a healthier world.

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