by Katie Stepp

What college freshman doesn’t dread the “Freshman 15?”

In an effort to act against and prevent this phenomenon as well as encourage healthier lifestyles of students on campus, the University of West Georgia is taking part in the Get Fruved movement, a nationwide campaign aimed to support healthy living among college students.

Group of studentsFruved is a U.S. Department of Agriculture joint project spanning over 90 universities around the country.

Dr. Brian Mosier, associate professor and chair of the College of Education’s Department of Sport Management, Wellness and Physical Education, recently received the Get Fruved mini-grant.

Named for the combination of the words FRUits and VEgetables, this movement, which was created at the University of Tennessee (UT), encourages students through various events around campus and high social media presence to interact with each other and encourage each other to live a healthier lifestyle. Above all, this movement encourages students to interact with one another and truly hold each other accountable to this healthier way of living.

Students in UWG Instructor Gina Brandenburg’s Current Issues and Trends in Health and Community Wellness class participated in research to gather data for Get Fruved. The class started their research by distributing a survey created by UT inquiring about what kind of health habits students and faculty have. A total of 340 students participated in the survey, which surpassed the goal of 250.

“If you’re willing to make yourself available and dedicate time to wellness, the UWG campus gives you the resources to do so,” shares Rebecca Brown, junior health and wellness major.

The second part of the research allowed for students to break off into teams and participate in environmental audits. After studying how to successfully judge locales, the students analyzed restaurants, vending machines and convenient stores. As students went out into the community and around campus, they not only surveyed and observed the foods being served, but brainstormed ways to increase the level of health food options.

“It was a very fun and interesting grant that we were able to work with,” student Katie Stout shared. “It taught me to not take some of the things our campus has for granted like sidewalks that don’t have cracks all over them, bike lanes, and even rentable bikes!”

“These environmental audits are a different type of service learning. It’s going out and really doing true research, which makes it more meaningful,” explained Brandenburg. “Based on the data of these audits, the class looked at what was found, put together a plan of change and brought it to the president's office.”

Students participating in the class said it opened their eyes to how many ways one can improve one’s health around campus. They will also have the opportunity to present their findings at the Student Academic Affairs Research Conference.

“This study helped me recognize how walkable and bikeable UWG is,” added student Ema Rainwater. “This campus offers the opportunity to get from place to place without using motor vehicles.”

In the Spring, UT will send back results from the surveys as well as more information on how to better the environments studied. Students will collaborate with one another and discuss the next steps to further their studies.

“This project would not be what it is without the students,” Mosier concluded. “We hope the approach of partnership continues as Fruved expands to other campuses.”

Posted on December 14, 2017