GMIT's new Healthy Campus Initiative launched by Minister Catherine Byrne
‘Clean air – No smoking or vaping’ policy is one of a dozen campaigns developed by committee
An initiative aimed at fostering and promoting healthy living in the workplace by staff and students in GMIT was today (Monday, 23 September) launched in GMIT Galway by the Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, TD.
The GMIT Healthy Campus initiative was first mooted last year by staff interested in working together to make GMIT a healthier place to study and work. The timing coincided with the national launch of the Healthy Ireland Higher Education Healthy Campus network and GMIT’s commitment to that national Framework and Charter. GMIT’s strategic plan 2019-2023 which was launched at Easter also incorporates health and wellbeing goals and enablers.
Since its establishment, the working group has rolled out several successful campaigns and initiatives involving staff and students from all campuses, schools and function areas, such as:
• Clean Air – No Smoking or Vaping across all GMIT Campuses policy to be rolled out January 2020
• Positive Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives with Students Union and Student Services
• GMIT Voices award-winning workplace choir set up February 2019 and new student choir this term
• Nutrition initiatives with GMIT canteen and GMIT Dept of Natural Sciences
• The promotion of the Student Gastrolife Society comprising student chefs who have produced a booklet of recipes and will commence shortly with evening cooking lessons for students
• Awareness campaign about Substance (Drugs and Alcohol) Misuse and liaison with communities
• Quit smoking campaigns
• Sexual Consent workshops for all first-year students
• Active participation in the National Transport Authority’s Step Challenges – Marchathon, Walktober and a bespoke GMIT event called “You May Walk”
• New GMIT Social Running Club for staff and students in all campuses with weekly lunch time runs; meeting up for park-runs, races and starting up a Couch to 5K training group
• Peer-led activities by students from Sports and Exercise Science, Public Health Nutrition, Culinary Arts and the student Environmental Society
• A dedicated week of Healthy Campus activities as part of the #First5weeks welcome programme.
Launching the initiative, the Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, said: “Educational institutions are one of the most important sectors involved in implementing Healthy Ireland. The young people who attend our Higher Education Institutions are the future leaders and parents in our society, so it is important that they have the knowledge, capabilities and confidence to look after their own health and wellbeing, and that they feel supported in this. I want to congratulate GMIT on the development of this initiative and the targets they have set to improve the physical, mental and sexual health of their students. I wish them every success for a future Healthy Campus”.
Acting President of GMIT Dr Michael Hannon says: “GMIT is proud to support this Healthy Campus Initiative. The impact of the staff choir on morale has been transformative since it was established and I am delighted to see the range of healthy activities expand. I especially welcome the initiative dealing with substance misuse and encourage a zero-tolerance approach towards the use of drugs. GMIT supports the proactive stance against drug use articulated by Minister Byrne and by the Minister for Higher Education.”
Chairperson of the GMIT Healthy Campus Initiative Anita Mahony says: “We are delighted with the levels of engagement from staff and students across all campuses and the positive effects it has had. One very positive initiative has been the introduction of the workplace choir where staff from all areas of the college meet together twice per week at lunchtime with a professional Choir Director. The Student’s Union joined forces to start up a student choir this academic year and after just two weeks this choir sounds amazing, has students in it from all over the world in it.”
“This month the new GMIT Social Staff and Student Running group started up and within days 70 staff from all campuses had signed up. Consent is also a hugely important issue which GMIT has been successful in addressing, introducing SMART Consent workshops to first year programmes, facilitated by trained students and staff together during the last academic year.”
Galway-Mayo IT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT are working towards becoming a Technological University for the west and northwest of Ireland.