As part of their health sciences capstone course, students organized a University-wide event that offered important information about mental health and suicide prevention as well as fun activities to promote wellness.
June 3, 2022
Selena Aponte ’22 recently collaborated with several of her classmates to get the word out about a fun and important event they were planning for their fellow Chargers that would promote mental health and wellness.
As part of their health sciences capstone course, Aponte and her classmates organized and hosted the University’s inaugural Fresh Check Day. They planned a variety of fun activities for students – including entertainment, giveaways, and interactive activities – to foster mental health education and awareness of resources at the University.
“I helped organize different pop-up events on campus leading up to Fresh Check Day, which included a ‘midnight scream,’ coloring, poster hang up, and a chalk event,” explains Aponte, who recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in health sciences. “My marketing committee also ran our social media account with more than 200 followers that promoted our events, our teams, and our mental wellness promotional materials.”
‘The students did a fabulous job’
Held in the Maxcy Quad, Fresh Check Day, which took place in the days leading up to final exams, offered important information about resources – such as the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services – to members of the University community. It also included fun and wellness-promoting activities such as yoga.
The health sciences capstone course enables students to collaborate on a service project that addresses a community need. Fresh Check Day was chosen to be the students’ project during the spring semester to bring awareness to the importance of mental health among college students – something that is especially timely because the pandemic has been particularly hard on students’ mental health.
“As part of the marketing team, we promoted our event through weekly postings, as well as chalking, tabling, and flyering events,” said Emily Barry ’23, a health sciences major. “I learned how to coordinate with other teams to plan a successful school-wide event.”
Kristina Krsiak, OTD, OTR/L, a lecturer in the University’s School of Health Sciences and the students’ professor, says organizing the event was a meaningful experience for students, and that it drew more than 250 people.
“The students did a fabulous job working together to plan and execute an extremely successful first Fresh Check Day,” she said. “It was no small feat, as this was the first time many of the students participated in planning a campus-wide event. The effort in planning the event, marketing it to the campus community, organizing volunteers, and creating the banners and a welcoming environment was phenomenal. They absolutely put their whole heart into this project.”
'The feeling of helping someone’
A program of the Jordan Porco Foundation, a Connecticut-based nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention, promoting mental health, and creating a message of hope for young adults, Fresh Check Day events are organized by universities to bring uplifting messages to students. The event did just that at the University of New Haven while offering students an opportunity to share what they have learned in their health sciences classes.
“We hope there were many lessons learned in planning this event, including how much effort and collaboration go into planning and executing an event or program,” said Prof. Krsiak. “This is a skill they will utilize when working as part of a healthcare team to provide exceptional care to each client.
“We also wanted students to learn about the importance of service to our profession and community,” she continued. “It is important for them to understand its impact on civic responsibility as well as the importance of promoting awareness of mental health and how each person can make an impact on someone’s life.”
Aponte, the new health sciences grad, says that being involved with Fresh Check Day – from planning the event to being a part of the day’s activities – was a wonderful experience.
“The part I enjoyed the most about Fresh Check Day was the feeling of helping someone,” she said. “The entire event was intended to reach out to the students in need, and I think we were successful in providing resources that students can use on their own.”