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Oxford launches Center for Healthful Living

Oxford College recently introduced its Center for Healthful Living, aimed at making its student body and community more healthy. Pictured, from left, are students Rachel Alvarado of Atlanta and Laila Goharioon of Woodstock. The program is aimed at promoting healthy activities for students, and the community is expected to benefit as well.

Oxford College recently introduced its Center for Healthful Living, aimed at making its student body and community more healthy. Pictured, from left, are students Rachel Alvarado of Atlanta and Laila Goharioon of Woodstock. The program is aimed at promoting healthy activities for students, and the community is expected to benefit as well.

COVINGTON -- Oxford College wants to focus more on the whole person, rather than just academic life, with its recent establishment of the Center for Healthful Living.

In 2010, Oxford College dean Stephen H. Bowen developed a task force that included Oxford's physical education faculty and several academic deans.

"They were asked to design a plan that not only included expanded course offerings, but also broadened the notion of healthy living beyond traditional academic courses, intramurals and intercollegiate athletics," Bowen said.

This semester, the Center was fully implemented, aiming at bettering its student population and the community.

It is an intentional approach to healthful living that encourages physical activity in an assortment of venues, according to the college. Teachers in the Center include faculty with physical education expertise, coaches holding master's degrees and part-time credentialed instructors with special skills and certifications in scuba, sports medicine, aerobics, outdoor education, CPR training and nutrition.

The concept was rolled out to students at a recent event on the Oxford quad, complete with climbing wall, information tables, yoga instruction and demonstrations on adopting a more healthful approach to life.

The Center plans to have an impact on the community too, including offering group exercise classes. It is expected to expand in the future, according to the college.

In addition to promoting movement and physical activity, the CHL also provides opportunities for students to learn about broader aspects of wellness and healthful living.

Amanda Yu, Oxford's full-time health educator, designs ways to educate students on issues and habits that can interfere with their college success, like sleep deprivation, stress, substance abuse and eating habits. She has established a group of peer health educators called the Healthy Eagles, who take the messages of healthful practices into their residence halls and daily lives.

Another aspect of the Center is Play Oxford, an innovative program that lets students earn academic credits while acquiring the healthy habit of making room in their schedule for varied exercise. Participating students spend half the semester in an instructed skill or activity and the other half in a monitored, yet self-scheduled personal program of physical activity. Students have a large range of activities to choose from, including cardio activity, group fitness classes and intramural sports.

"This is already becoming a primary part of the fabric of Oxford life," Bowen said.

The Center also operates Bike Oxford, a program that lets students rent bikes for short-term rides. It serves as a liaison to organizations, such as Outdoor Oxford, that engage students in physical activity as recreation.

The Center also partners with other Oxford College programs that promote wellbeing, like THE ZONE, a space for meditation also sponsored by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, and an ongoing program on stress management offered by the Office of Counseling and Career Services.