Written by Jory Gomes ’18
As I previously reported on Hiram’s Health Blog: “on Tuesday, December 5th, Hiram’s Health Professions Affinity Community (HPAC) hosted students of all majors for the 2nd annual Hiram Health Con, a health-minded idea-blitz competition. Students, working either in pairs, groups, or solo, competed for $1,500 of grants.” Now that the judges have awarded the grants and the groups have begun working on their projects, I checked in with the grantees to ask them about their projects. Below are just a few of the students at Hiram who are working to make a campus that is more accessible and healthier—both mentally and physically.
Accessibility in Hiram Buildings
First up is the grant for “Accessibility in Hiram Buildings,” which was created by Alexia Kemmerling ‘20, Olivia Richard ‘20, and Ceara Nario-Redmond ‘18. Their project “centered around making one more building on Hiram’s campus physically accessible.” They stated that “this project will likely manifest in the addition of an outdoor ramp to either Bonney Castle or Jessie-Smith House, the education building, and changes to [make each] building’s bathrooms physically accessible.” They are still reviewing buildings and the prices for making the changes as they want to maximize the impact that their grant can have, but they are eager to work towards a solution.
Kemmerling said that the idea came to them because “one of our members, Ceara, is in a wheelchair and had been advocating for accessibility at Hiram’s campus for years.” She further stated that “though I am not physically disabled, I do wear hearing aids and so accessibility and equal opportunities for disabled people has been a lifelong passion and interest of mine.” When discussing critics who say that the overall benefit for accessibility isn’t enough to warrant the costs, she made the point that “when you design for disability everyone benefits. This is the beauty of universal design. Furthermore, we have noticed a lack in diversity of disability, and specifically physical disability, on our campus. The more accessible we make our learning environment the more people we will be able to serve.” she furthered this by saying that “everyone, regardless of disability, should be able to find a place in higher education.”
Where 2 Turn
Second up is “Where 2 Turn” a project created by Victoria Fallucco ‘21, Zoe Sajen ‘19, and Jennifer Kistler ‘19. The purpose of their grant proposal is “to spread mental health awareness on campus and to provide students with mental health resources.” They have plans to start a peer-led support group and to develop their own app that could help struggling students reach out for support. When asked why they wanted to focus on this topic they said that “Hiram’s students aren’t aware of the mental health resources and hotlines they could need in a crisis situation. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 4 college students struggle with mental health! It is important to know that you aren’t alone and that there is help!” On their overall experience at Hiram Health Con, Fallucco stated that “It was life changing! I made some amazing friends that I can actually relate to and not feel stigmatized! This experience was a crazy rollercoaster, but we met our goal in the end! I can’t wait to implement our project on campus!”
Exercise Spaces in the Dormitories
Last, but certainly not least in this spotlight, is the grant for “Exercise Spaces in the Dormitories” which was created by Danni McDonald ‘19 and Sheldon McGee ‘21. They explained that their proposal was for “exercise rooms/areas on campus, specifically in the dorms.” They stated that “on campus, many students are not able to use the Coleman center to work out, or do not work out because they either do not have time to go, [the hours] do not work with their schedule, or [they] are too intimidated with everyone else working out around them.” It is for these reasons that they “ want to put a small workout station in each dormitory building (Booth-Centennial, Miller, Henry, and Whitcomb).” They believe that this will “promote health and an active lifestyle on campus.” In explaining their proposal they added that the image of stationary bikes along the windows in the Miller lounge looking over the hill would be a beautiful view to have while working out!”
Furthermore, they added that they are eager to get to work on the project because “it will not only help students who can’t get to the gym, but we think it is an asset to add to our campus because it shows that we help the students and provide to them the best benefits.” They added that “we have a variety of extra space in the dorms so it will be very nice to see the lounges used even more.” Already getting to work, they noted some items that they would possibly have in the exercise rooms, such as “a Power Tower, which is a home gym where you can perform various types of exercises such as dips, core workouts, pull-ups, etc.” In discussing the origin of their idea, they brought up “the lack of exercise college students get” and how they want to get rid of the idea of the ‘freshman 15’.” they emphasized that they don’t want students to be intimidated from using the gym in the Coleman Center because of the athletes who use it so often, and they want students to be able to exercise without having to go too far in the cold.
These three grantees are just some examples of the ideas that Hiram students come up with at the annual Hiram Health Con. Stay tuned to hear about where the funding takes these students and their ideas for campus improvement!