UAB hosts first ever in-person Health Promoting Universities summit

Created in June 2015, the Okanagan Charter provides institutions with a common language, principles and framework to become health-promoting campuses with cultures of compassion, well-being and equity.

Health Promoting Uni StreamNearly three years after becoming the first university in the United States to adopt the Okanagan Charter and receiving global recognition as the country’s first Health Promoting University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently hosted the first in-person summit on its campus in February 2023.

The summit, titled “Centering Equity While Moving Through Wellness To Wellbeing,” played host to 173 participants, representing 57 institutions from 26 states. The summit was designed to provide participants a better understanding of the key aspirations of the Okanagan Charter and how to apply them to move their campus forward beyond wellness to a health-promoting campus. Similar to the UAB Blazer Core, the summit schedule was developed utilizing the City as Classroom philosophy. Participants heard from national and international leaders in health promotion and visited numerous historic museums and sites in and around our historic city, connecting what they learn to action.

In addition to gaining valuable insights on the deeper meaning of well-being and health promotion from global and institutional perspectives, participants were treated to a U.S. Health Promoting Campuses Network President’s panel, which included UAB President Ray L. Watts.

The International Health Promoting Campuses Network is guided by the Okanagan Charter, which calls on postsecondary schools to infuse health into campus culture and lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally. Created in June 2015, the charter provides institutions with a common language, principles and framework to become health-promoting campuses with cultures of compassion, well-being and equity.

“I am so proud to work at UAB, where we are not just the first health-promoting campus in the U.S. but also the host of the first in-person USHPCN Summit,” Rebecca Kennedy, Ph.D., assistant vice president for Student Health and Wellbeing in the UAB Division of Student Affairs. “We provided participants with a set of transformative experiences to develop a community of health-promoting universities filled with students, staff and faculty across multiple disciplines who are working collaboratively across our country to address real-world challenges and opportunities.” 

UAB has many active initiatives and programs that fit within the ideological framework of the charter, including:

·      Live HealthSmart Alabama and the Grand Challenge

·      Exercise is Medicine

·      Signature Core Curriculum

·      Birmingham Health District and Tobacco-Free Campus

·      Diversity Education and other Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programming

·      Sustainability

·      UAB Cares Suicide Prevention and Intervention Initiative

Each HPU develops its own strategic plan for how it lives out and implements health promotion on its campus and in its community. By doing so, health-promoting universities and colleges improve the health of the people who live, learn, work and play on their campuses and strengthen the ecological, social and economic sustainability of their communities and wider society. 

Click here to learn more about the first Health Promoting University in the United States.