Our group decided to create a peer coach pilot program to facilitate greater awareness and uptake of physical activity resources on campus. This program will pair a student that regularly uses campus fitness resources and a student who does not use these resources but is interested. The students in our respective communities (East Quad, School of Public Health, and BLI) will be sent adverts describing the program as well as a survey to indicate their interest in being paired with a “gym buddy.” We also partnered with MHealthy and help promote their Active U program through his pilot.
We ran into a huge challenge while designing this program. Initially we were all enthusiastic about our goal to tackle mental health on the college campus, however, I think none of us foresaw the challenges we would face in coming up with a program we all felt good about. We struggled for a long time trying to compromise between our ideas and figure out something that could be completed in 6 weeks. At times we did not agree on what we each thought could be achieved in that time span based on our individual schedules. Although we did not expect to encounter this obstacle of indecisiveness, we struggled with it for some time and realized we needed guidance so we reached out to our peer facilitator, Ms. Fatema Haque, and with an outside’s perspective we were able to swiftly narrow down our options until we could all agree on a goal. Another challenge we did not expect but ended up learning from was when we reached out to stakeholders with the interest of collaboration. Some of our stakeholders did not respond and some responded with a redirection to another stakeholder. As a result, it took an extended amount of time for us to gather the information we needed from our stakeholders in order to complete our project. We learned it is important to take charge and show up in person if needed in order to speed these things up.
As for our project, our team paired each individual and facilitate one introductory meeting and 1 to 2 “fitness outings: in the next 2.5 weeks. In the end, we collected data respondents, 93% were females and 72% were students. Furthermore, 76% of people were looking to explore new ways to exercise. We ended up having many of the pairs contact their gym buddy and all of them thought they would have benefitted from the program from the start. In addition, there were two pairs that are still exercising with one another today! In the future, we hope to incorporate something like this into the New Student Programs to inform incoming students on the wide array of possibilities pertaining to physical exercise that are available on campus.
We all learned a lot not only about leadership through this BLI experience, but also things within ourselves, our capabilities, and how we want to contribute to social change individually. It was a rewarding experience and if we had more time, we definitely could see something amazing resulting out of our project. Good luck to all those who take ALA 171 in the future!
By:Jonathan Chuang, Khadeejah Khan, Vivian Obia, Jessica Y. Wang