Sustainability is more than just looking after the environment - it accounts for the social and human spheres too. The University of Calgary has a number of great programs and services that promote wellness, and it's been interesting getting to meet some of the people behind these services as we run our workshops and gather information for the 2014-2019 Plan.
It's been interesting that just as we've been preparing to gather the data for the social sustainability portion of our plan, the Wellness Centre has launched a new strategy and toolkit to make it even more simple for students, faculty, and staff to access the support they need to ensure that their mind, body, and spirit are healthy. This strategy includes counselling services, health services, faith and spirituality guidance, and much more, and while I'm not affiliated with the centre, I can say from my own experience that it can be extremely difficult to reach out for help and simply having the services there wasn't always enough. The new strategy makes it much easier to find the help that you need and, just as an observation, I feel that there is more being done on campus that fosters a culture where it is now okay to seek help and work on areas you may be struggling in.
For example, the U of C unofficially broke the Guinness World Record yesterday for the most sexual health screening done in 24 hours at a single venue (#ucalgarygettested) - it takes 2-3 months until it's Guinness Official. This was a highly-publicized campaign that took place in the largest venue on-campus and featured a number of different groups and volunteers offering information on sexual health, STI prevention or treatment-options and distributing free condoms an pamphlets on safe sex (including same-sex methods). There are parts of the world where this would be illegal, let alone promoted. Here, over 520 people feel comfortable peeing in a cup and giving that cup to a stranger. Side note, even though they weren't testing for syphilis I witnessed one of the more chotchy kids actually yell at his friends standing outside to join him because "Al Capone died of syphilis and that shit ain't tight, get your ass over here and pee in this friggin' cup" (actual quote).
An awareness campaign centered on managing stress is also currently active. The video above, which was made by high school classmate of mine, was part of a competition called "Dear Stress" where people were encouraged to share their experience with stress and how they've managed to cope. (If you're from the U of C you can vote for this video or the others here). I actually wasn't even aware about the campaign until she posted it on Facebook but I'll chalk that up to being physically dislocated from the main hub where most of the advertising happens. Since it's exam time, tax season, end-of-year and, for most of my friends, graduation time, it's especially important to learn healthy stress management so you can face all of the upcoming tasks head-on. As someone who has had historically poor stress- and time-management, learning how to deal with all of the pressure makes a world of difference and can help you get through day-to-day without getting lost in the scary, dark places that often start to take over your mind. I've started to feel the burn lately trying to juggle responsibilities and I have to continually remind myself to slow down and take a moment to look after my body and relax my thoughts (yoga almost feels like cheating since I feel I get to cross off both at the same time!). We have some really great resources at our disposal and we just have to remember to use them! Stay happy and healthy everyone!