On January 25, the UTSC Campus Council met for the first time in 2023. During the meeting, the council celebrated UTSC’s formal recognition as a Healthy Campus by the Canadian Health Promoting Campuses Network. UTSC is Canada’s 37th campus to receive that designation, which came after the university adopted the Okanagan Charter on October 14, 2022.
The Okanagan Charter calls on campuses to “embed health into all aspects of campus culture” and “lead health promotion action and collaboration.” By adopting the charter, UTSC committed to “endorsing diversity and promoting wellness on campus.” These commitments centre around six pillars: arts and culture, food and nutrition, mental health, physical activity, equity and diversity, and physical space.
During the meeting, Sheila John, assistant dean, wellness, recreation and sport, presented a report on the UTSC’s Healthy Campus Initiative. The initiative prompts the university to include health-focused initiatives — including physical, mental, spiritual components — within teaching, research, and co-curricular and extracurricular pastimes.
John detailed a number of campus events associated with UTSC’s Healthy Campus Initiative including pet therapy, nature walks, equity promoting conferences, and a community bike program. One of the initiatives’s key program was a Prioritizing Mental Health experiential learning course, which UTSC piloted in summer 2022. John characterized the course’s impact as “tremendous”; feedback from students described the course as a “major destressor.”
As part of the Healthy Campus Initiative, UTSC launched a Healthy Campus website that consolidates resources for faculty, staff, and students, such as mentoring opportunities, counselling resources, and events.
All staff, faculty, and students are invited to celebrate the adoption of the Okanagan Charter on January 31 from 2:00–4:00 pm at the Highland Hall Event Centre.