Body Awareness Body Appreciation Week helps reduce student stress

By on February 19, 2013

By Laura Azahar–

The two weeks that focus on body awareness and body appreciation kicked off last week. These two weeks focus on educating students on eating disorders, stress management, and self-worth.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the healthiest of them all? The University of Louisville is part of the sixth annual Body Awareness Body Appreciation, BABA, to promote an educated campus on daily health concerns.

BABA began six years ago with the purpose to bring awareness to eating disorders. According to the National College Health Assessment, NCHA, from 2012, less than 1 percent of U of L students suffer from an eating disorder — consequently, the focus of the events has shifted. This year is the first that BABA will last two weeks to be able to reach out to different health needs of campus.

The top three factors affecting individual academic performance at the university are stress, sleep difficulties and anxiety, specified in NCHA. “Those are unhealthy ways of responding to life, and kind of the chaos of life as a student. So that’s what we try to do, to teach students, how to become more resilient,” said Karen Newton, Director of Health Promotions.

Newton started BABA, and has been restructuring it throughout the years to fit the needs of the U of L community. With the help of the Health Promotions staff, they develop events that will promote a positive way of dealing with stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation. As Newton said, the eating disorders, drug use and alcoholism are examples of negative ways of dealing with the factors impairing academic excellence.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Cardinal Cook-Off will be presenting local chefs and local food to promote healthier cooking and eating. It will take place in the Student Activities Center Multipurpose Room from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

One of BABA’s purposes is to encourage the community to challenge assumptions about body image and affirm the true measure of a person — this year’s theme for BABA is “What is the Measure of a Person?” Newton said, “We are trying to promote this idea that your physical size isn’t the most important reflection of who you are.”

The series of events kicked off with a presentation on body image and eating disorders on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Kathryn Cook, a sports dietitian intern, presented an hour-long slide show that informed the audience about different types of eating disorders.

“I think anyone having any health issues, living a healthy life style should be their priority. If they can’t do that then they need to look for help from either a dietitian, or a nutrition person, or counselor on campus,” said Cook. “And I think the two weeks are focusing on that, letting students know the resources available to them.”

Although the event did not have a large turn-out, the students that participated were engaged in the conversation by asking questions and making comments. Jordan Ellis-Reeves, a freshman Elementary Education major, said that coming to college is a different experience and remaining conscious with her health is an important factor. Ellis-Reeves planning in going to the Cardinal Cook-Off, “It is kind of neat to have local chefs, and local food, while getting the whole university involved to promote awareness,” she said.

Cash Upton, junior Art Education major, was present at the first BABA event. She said all these events are important for students because of the stress in their lives. “These stress factors lead to disorders, over eating, and people get insecure. It is good to have these things because it helps us with our self-confidence,” she said, “We learn about ways to fight these different stressors, and get more information on how to stay healthy on campus.”

Health Promotion’s mission is to collaborate to build a campus community that promotes vitality, resiliency, health and academic excellence. The students who go out to these events will become part of a campus wide movement. All events are free for students, staff, and faculty.

What is the measure of U of L students? The reflection of a mirror does not have as much value as the way students use their available resources to improve their lives in the university.

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Photo by Anna Meany/The Louisville Cardinal

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