Queen’s adopts Okanagan Charter

Pledge calls on the improvement of health and wellness for students, staff, and faculty

Queen’s announced its commitment to the Okanangan Charter on Jan. 9.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

On Jan. 9, Queen’s formally adopted the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, committing to health and wellness on campus. 

The Charter calls on post-secondary institutions to incorporate proactive wellness strategies into every aspect of their campuses, with consideration of students, staff, and faculty. Queen’s joins 18 other post-secondary institutions across Canada in adopting the Okanagan charter.

The University hasn’t released any information suggesting what changes can be expected on campus as a result of the Charter. 

 “It’s a little early to describe how the wellness initiative will manifest itself; the work of the committee has only really just begun and there will be a series of campus consultations aimed at answering this very question,” said Dr. Duncan Hunter, a member of the Provost’s Advisory Committee that recommended the move. 

Established as an outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, it was designed with the input of individuals from a range of backgrounds, including researchers, practitioners, administrators, students, and policymakers. 

“I think all individuals and organizations have an obligation to do what they can to improve the health of communities and the persons that live in communities,” Hunter said to The Journal. “The Okanagan Charter is about promoting health on campus, and I can’t think of a single reason that Queen’s [wouldn’t] sign on.”

By adopting the Charter, Queen’s has made two general commitments that are centered on collaboration with Queen’s members to develop campus-wide policies and support research with campus partners. 

Queen’s will first collaborate with members of the Queen’s community to develop a campus-wide system of wellness policies and programs which apply to all aspects of the University. 

As per the Charter, changes would be wide-reaching and reach a greater portion of campus. This part of the commitment will be achieved through the work of the newly formed Campus Wellness Project—an independent, private funded wellness initiative at Queen’s.

The Charter aims to develop a formal structure for the University to ensure that campus health and wellbeing are considered in all actions, processes, policies and programming. It builds off recommendations in a 2012 report from the student-focused Principal’s Commission on Mental Health and the work of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health. 

“It’s important to emphasize that the initiative is not only aimed at students but also at staff and faculty,” Hunter said.

Queen’s has also committed to working with campus partners—research institutions on campus engaged in health-promotion to  research advance teaching, knowledge exchange, and action, locally and globally.

The Committee believes the Okanagan Charter builds on the concept of wellness defined by the 1986 World Health Organization Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. 

According to the Ottawa Charter, wellness must extend beyond the health sector through the establishment of health promotion frameworks that allow the public to improve physical, mental, and social well-being.

“Health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life: where they learn, work, play and love,” the Charter states. 

 

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