Healthy Campus Initiative to honor students, staff at inaugural celebration
Luz Torres-Gonzalez not only talks the talk when it comes to promoting health and wellness at UCLA, she walks the walk.
In fact, at around 10 a.m. on any given workday, you can find Torres-Gonzalez, a human resources and payroll administrative analyst for Housing and Hospitality Services, leading a group of colleagues from various campus departments on a brisk walk around the Hill, UCLA’s undergraduate residential community. It is something she has done for the past eight years.
Torres-Gonzalez also encourages her colleagues to make time for Bruin MoveMail, a twice daily email reminder that encourages deskbound UCLA staff and faculty to get up for some exercise. She practices meditation and yoga on campus and participates in FITWELL programs and Staff Assembly’s Learn at Lunch sessions. She laces up for UCLA’s weekly I Heart Walking program and ends her day walking her dog at Griffith Park. She also joined a UCLA vanpool to decrease her carbon footprint.
“Luz is always looking to take her wellness to the next level,” said Miriana Llamas-Cardenas, a co-worker who nominated her for an inaugural Jane B. Semel HCI Staff Appreciation and Recognition Award. “Our office can always count on Luz to be the one who brings healthy snacks to the office, presenting us with healthier alternatives to our not-so-healthy snacks. She constantly reminds us about mindful eating and taking proper lunch breaks free from distractions and cell phones.”
Torres-Gonzalez is one of more than a dozen UCLA staff members, students and faculty who will be honored on April 30 at the inaugural UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative Symposium.
“The success we’ve experienced since HCI began is something we all should be incredibly proud of,” said Wendy Slusser, a clinical professor of pediatrics in the schools of medicine and public health and associate vice provost for HCI. “We’ve been able to harness an enormous amount of enthusiasm, support, talent and expertise from our campus to advance HCI’s vision for a healthier and more resilient UCLA community, and translating it to Los Angeles, the nation and the world.”
HCI was launched in January 2013, thanks to the vision and support of philanthropists Jane and Terry Semel. The multipronged program is rooted in UCLA's long-term commitment to fostering a culture of mental and physical health and wellness. Since its inception, HCI has enhanced and expanded campus health and wellness efforts; provided new and interesting approaches to exercise, mental health and healthy eating; encouraged new projects, programs and policies; supported synergies and coordination among the myriad groups and programs that support health and wellness at UCLA; and offered students, staff and faculty fun, exciting ways to make it easy to be healthy and fit.
Since its inception, HCI has provided funding for more than 90 projects, including student groups, research studies, staff and faculty projects, and a multitude of health and wellness-related events and activities.
The initiative has also helped the campus go e-cigarette- and tobacco-free; increased the amount of healthy options and sustainably sourced foods served in campus restaurants; and promoted a healthier built environment on campus.
Off campus, HCI has inspired the UC Global Food Initiative, which involves all 10 UC campuses in a common goal to address global food issues. It also became a model for a nationwide program, launched by the Partnership for a Healthier America, led first lady Michelle Obama and others, to improve health and wellness on college campuses across the country.
In addition to celebrating the success of HCI and honoring leaders who have been instrumental in its achievements, the symposium will feature notable speakers. Among them will be Sam Kass and Bill Yosses, former members of the White House culinary staff; UCLA public health professor and philanthropist Jonathan Fielding, a former director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; Barbara Oakley, author of “Evil Gene” and a professor of engineering at Oakland University; Emeran Mayer, director of the UCLA Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress; and UCLA alumnus D’Artagnan Scorza, founder and executive director of the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood.
Guests will also learn about HCI-funded student projects and enjoy a meditation session, a performance by the UCLA Sex Squad, live music and a movement break. The evening will end with a dinner reception featuring signature dishes from UCLA’s newest healthy residential restaurant, B-Plate.
The HCI Symposium will be held at Covel Commons from 4-9 p.m. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP. General admission is $40. HCI is offering free admission to the first 400 UCLA students who send an email to organizers requesting the event’s student registration code.