On January 10th, BSN student McKenzie Jenkins launched a campus-wide health initiative called the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge. The program invites UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, and staff to complete biweekly challenges and make posts about the challenge on Facebook.
Ms. Jenkins, who is also President of the Association of Nursing Students at UNC-Chapel Hill, got the idea for the challenge during a clinical course she completed for her BSN. She worked with UNC Campus Health, Campus Recreation, and Student Wellness during the Fall 2013 semester to complete a community assessment of students’ health and wellness needs. Ms. Jenkins identified a need for improvement in multiple aspects of student wellness and discovered that many students were unaware of the wellness-promoting options available to them on campus. Reaching out through social media, she decided, could remedy that knowledge gap.
“We looked at other models at other schools and tailored our program to the needs we found here at Carolina,” said Ms. Jenkins. “The Tar Heel Wellness Challenge takes a holistic approach that aims to unite different health departments on campus, promote overall student wellness, and reach the community on a large scale.”
Community members can join the challenge by liking the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge (THWC) Facebook page. Every two weeks, Ms. Jenkins and her team plan to post a challenge on Facebook. Each challenge post will focus on an aspect of holistic health–physical, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, or intellectual. The page will also be used to promote on-campus wellness events and a monthly t-shirt giveaway. At the end of each month, people who shared a picture, video, or comment about completing the challenge via the #THWC hashtag will be entered in a prize drawing. Nearly 150 people have signed up to participate so far.
Ms. Jenkins is thrilled that her clinical coursework led to a project that could have a lasting impact on student health. “This clinical site was a perfect fit for me because I have a huge passion for health and wellness,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing this initiative grow. We’re working to have a continued student nurse presence with the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge and we hope to maintain the program long-term.”
Ms. Jenkins’ academic advisor for this project is director of undergraduate education Beverly Foster, PhD, RN. Her preceptor is Carol Kozel, BSN, RN, director of nursing services at Campus Health. Support for the Tar Heel Wellness Challenge comes from Campus Health Services, Student Wellness, Campus Recreation, and the School of Nursing.