Global Health Day Joins Wellness Week Education

Next week, students will be participating in the second annual Wellness Week, during which students receive time off from certain class on certain days to attend a total of three mandatory workshops about wellness throughout the week. New to this year’s program is the addition of Global Health Day on the Sunday preceding Wellness Week. Global Health Day features workshops run by Partners in Health as well as a presentation by Eric Kanter ’09, co-head of Andover’s FaceAIDS chapter. Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students and Wellness Week coordinator, said the idea originated from conversations he had been having with the FaceAIDS organization of doing a conference at PA. However, the day was expanded to include global health issues “just to make it more interesting and have more variety for students,” said Hoyt. Hoyt said he worked closely with the FaceAIDS group on campus to organize the event. “We want [Global Health Day] to not just be a burden, but something enjoyable and meaningful at the same time,” said Hoyt. Kanter’s presentation will be on a month-long trip he took over the summer to South Africa, where he worked on spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS. Kanter described one instance in a village where one in three people were infected with HIV/AIDS. He said it was “amazing” to see the villagers’ perspectives of AIDS/HIV and how those compared to the views of many Americans. Kanter said until recently, the South African government did not even recognize AIDS as being a result of HIV. Hoyt said he has also been working with Andover Drug and Alcohol Awareness Committee (ADAAC) to schedule workshops during the week. In addition to discussing students’ opinions of past Wellness Week presentations with Hoyt, Cassius Clay ’09, ADAAC co-head, said the ADAAC board has also held a conference call with the presenter of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”, about alcohol abuse in fraternities and sororities on college campuses. Clay said ADDAC advised the presenter to engage the audience at Andover more than he did last year. Students can fulfill one of the three workshop requirements for Wellness Week by attending the keynote address and one of the later workshops on Global Health Day. Hoyt said that every workshop has at least fifteen students enrolled. “[Wellness Week has] an intention to provide as much enriching content as we can,” Hoyt said. He added that the content of certain Wellness Week workshops are designed to be targeted at specific grades and age groups. In deciding which programs to schedule, Hoyt said there are a range of issues the school feels must be covered, but beyond that he said, “We aim to not just cover problem health issues, but positive health issues, too.” Hoyt said student feedback is an important part in determining which programs to bring back from year to year. Hoyt said that PA’s own improvisational troupe, Under the Bed, will be performing in addition with a panel discussion to cover eating disorders rather than inviting back the one-woman show The Thin Line. Students last year felt that The Thin Line was not “engaging,” Hoyt said. Hoyt has been working with Under the Bed to highlight how eating disorders directly relate to Andover. Alec Weiss ’11, a member of Under the Bed, said two Saturdays ago, Hoyt and a few other faculty members came to a rehearsal and helped them practice skits that deal with not just the problems of eating disorders, but how to help someone who has them, too. Weiss said members of Under the Bed have also spent time studying eating disorders. Hoyt said he expected the Under the Bed performance to be “engaging, more relevant and provide a frame for the panel discussion.” Kanter and Under the Bed are the only students presenting at Wellness Week this year, but Hoyt said, “I would love for students to play as much of a role as they are willing and able to do.” Hoyt also said although he is open to more faculty participation, there has been an “evolution” towards external workshops to alleviate stress on faculty members. Previously, Andover had a week for Freedom from Chemical Dependence seminars, and times later in the year to cover topics such as HIV/AIDS and date rape. “The idea three years ago was to consolidate it into one space,” said Hoyt.