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Promoting Inclusive and Accessible Wellness Activities on College Campuses

March 13, 2024

According to the CDC, individuals with disabilities tend to rate their health lower compared to those without disabilities, (28.4% versus 61.4%). This emphasizes the importance of fostering a culture of inclusive and accessible wellness on campus. Let’s explore how you can create engaging and accessible wellness programs for your students.

Breaking Down Barriers

Beyond the Physical Accommodations

Going beyond physical accessibility is crucial. Consider sensory sensitivities, cognitive limitations, and language barriers when designing and implementing programs. According to Cognitive Disability and Postsecondary Education: A National Study on Earnings, “a student with an intellectual disability who earns a bachelor’s degree may earn 68% more than a student who did not go to college.” This stresses the importance of offering an environment where students with disabilities can thrive, and fostering an inclusive wellness atmosphere can meaningfully support this goal.

Language Matters

Inclusive communication is key to ensuring all students feel welcome and understood. According to the CDC, health promotion messages frequently neglect accessibility barriers faced by individuals with disabilities. These barriers include the absence of large-print or Braille materials for those with vision impairments, uncaptioned videos for those with hearing impairments, and complex language that may hinder comprehension for individuals with cognitive impairments.

Building an Inclusive Culture

Marketing for Everyone

Promote your wellness activities in diverse ways, utilizing channels that reach all student groups. Consider partnering with student organizations, utilizing social media platforms, and employing inclusive and inviting visuals in your marketing materials. For instance, consider including individuals with disabilities in posters that are hung around your wellness centers and on your school’s website. Furthermore, ensure that you’re using clear headings and easy-to-read fonts. If you’re using any videos to promote wellness and fitness centers on your campus, including captions is also essential.

Creating Safe Spaces

Foster a welcoming and supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable participating. This involves establishing clear guidelines against discrimination and harassment, promoting respect and understanding, and actively addressing any concerns raised by students. According to a report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University, college students experiencing discrimination are more inclined to report elevated levels of social isolation, suicidal thoughts, and overall distress to counselors compared to their counterparts. This underscores the critical importance of implementing proactive measures to address discrimination and promote inclusivity within the college campus community.

Making Wellness Accessible

Adapting Activities

Don’t be afraid to adapt existing activities to make them more accessible. Consider offering different difficulty levels, providing alternative formats for participation, and incorporating assistive technologies when necessary. This demonstrates flexibility and commitment to reaching all students.

Utilize Technology

Technology can be a powerful tool for enhancing accessibility. Utilize online platforms, virtual reality experiences, and assistive applications to broaden participation opportunities for students with various needs.

The Power of Partnerships

Collaborating with other campus resources can be invaluable in providing comprehensive wellness support. Wellness and fitness centers should partner with accessibility services, counseling centers, and student advocacy groups to leverage their expertise and expand their reach.

Creating an Integrated Health Strategy

Physical Activity

There’s up to a 30% reduced risk of early death, dementia, and Alzheimer’s among people who regularly exercise. These are just a few of the many benefits that could be gained from providing accessible physical activities. For instance, offer options for students to participate in a walking club, chair boxing, swimming, or gardening club. Some other activities include seated sports, rower cycling, water aerobics, and arm bicycling. There are so many ways to adapt physical activities to meet each student’s needs.

Nutrition Promotion

Promoting wellness amongst students with disabilities is not limited to physical activity. Ensuring that students are well-informed about their nutrition and having accessible, nutritious food on campus is also crucial. Since the gastrointestinal tract is responsible for about 95% of serotonin production, it’s evident that there exists a correlation between food and mental health. Ensure healthy choices such as fruits and vegetables are placed in high-traffic areas within food halls. Moreover, limit the amount of processed foods on campus, and ensure that healthy options are as affordable as possible – even lowering costs by 10% could make a positive impact!

Mental Health Support

A recent survey found that 40% of college students considered dropping out in the past six months due to mental health concerns, highlighting the critical need for accessible counseling services. Colleges can make counseling services more accessible by providing options such as remote sessions, ensuring physical spaces are wheelchair accessible, and offering materials in various formats to accommodate different disabilities.

Measuring Success

By leveraging technology, colleges can track and analyze student engagement in wellness programs more effectively. This data can reveal valuable insights into which student groups may be underrepresented in these programs, allowing colleges to identify areas for improvement and tailor their approach to better serve specific student populations, including those with disabilities.

Moreover, reporting available through your EHR and other campus systems can facilitate ongoing assessment and adjustment of your wellness initiatives, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently, and interventions are targeted where they are most needed.

Learn more about the power of reporting here. .

Key Takeaways

Making wellness activities inclusive and accessible takes a multi-pronged approach, but the rewards are significant. By embracing these practices, colleges can ensure every student thrives.

Explore how the College of Coastal Georgia leverages our tools to support Accessibility Services.