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Student advocates help to promote wellness on campus

By Patrick Fergus

College students often struggle to maintain their physical and mental health because of a demanding schedule. Anyone who attends or visits Springfield College can immediately recognize the importance and emphasis of health and wellness around campus. That includes access to numerous resources led by both students and faculty.

The Health Promotion Office is a newly-created program that strives to help students develop a healthy lifestyle through community-oriented initiatives. A branch of the office is the Student Advocates for Wellness club, consisting of students who want to promote the importance of wellness, and have led residence hall programs, classroom presentations and outreach activities.

Arianna Vessicchio, a senior health promotion minor, is the head supervisor of the club and oversees its events and activities.

“It’s important to keep people informed about safe habits when it comes to sex and drinking, or even stress,” Vessicchio said.

The club has led the charge in conveying messages about safe sex, through its cleverly-worded posters around campus. Specifically, one that advertises the free and anonymous delivery of condoms with a simple completion of a form. The club also plans to lead conversations about STIs, and an event this March called “Sex in the Dark” where students will be able to ask questions to a panel of experts.

The condom delivery service was a product of COVID and the many challenges that the isolation presented for the students on campus. As students are still recovering from the global pandemic, mental health has become a fundamental issue for the club.

Vessicchio praised the Pride Cares program, which essentially trains students in the needs of people struggling with mental health problems.

“We kind of talk about the topics that people don’t want to talk about, but they need to be talked about,” she said.

These students serve as trusted peers to confide in and can be easily identified by the green tags that hang from their backpacks.

Health education is very important to Vessicchio and the club as a whole.

“Some people had an expansive education about treating your body well, but others didn’t, and we are here to give them the information they need,” said Vessicchio, whose passion for health promotion was sparked by a simple classroom presentation explaining the keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

These kinds of demonstrations and learning opportunities are not only useful for a student’s everyday well-being but serve as educational tools for people who have been deprived of proper guidance in the past.

The club is always looking for new members who care about promoting accurate health facts and practices, with many different roles available. Students can contact the Health Promotion Office about joining and see the many different ways to get involved.

“It’s not like you have to be the person that stands up and has to talk about the hard topics, there’s a role for anyone who wants to get involved,” Vessicchio said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Whether it be tackling mental health issues, safe sex practices, or the path to several healthy lifestyle choices, the Student Advocates for Wellness is always trying new solutions, programs, and events to keep students on top of their game.

Photo Courtesy Arianna Vessicchio

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