By Lisa Kirby, Communications Specialist, University of San Francisco
Together as a network, the nation’s Jesuit colleges and universities have embarked on a distinctive wellness movement that models the central Ignatian principle of cura personalis and provides individual institutions a way to build community on their campuses.
Five years ago, faculty and staff from Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco (USF) partnered on an experiment in friendly competition: which university could accumulate the most minutes of movement in a month? That competition has expanded exponentially in each subsequent year, to the point that 20 of the 28 Jesuit institutions are now engaged in the Go Move Challenge.
This year also saw the launch of the inaugural Students Go Move Challenge, which premiered with eight institutions competing against each other. This year’s increased participation clearly demonstrated that AJCU values the importance of physical activity in the workplace and its cascade of positive effects on overall wellness, camaraderie and employee engagement.
With the launch of the new Go Move Challenge website earlier this year (gomovechallenge.org), it’s easier than ever to participate, and at no cost to the colleges and universities, says Suzy Kisylia, wellness manager at USF. The new website not only allowed participants to track their minutes quickly and easily, but gave them the ability to connect, share stories and pictures, inspire one another to exercise, and enhance school spirit through healthy competition.
Although it is mainly considered a physical wellness challenge that promotes exercise and movement, the Go Move Challenge fosters camaraderie among colleagues, departments, schools, offices, universities and colleges, and the AJCU as a whole. Now that participants can share their progress on the new website, Facebook and Instagram, Jesuit institutions are connecting on a personal level like never before. “Our faculty and staff were consistently impressed at the level of commitment from the other participating AJCU institutions – even in the face of inclement weather and other challenges such as recruiting participating employees for the first time,” says Kisylia.
In addition to coordinating the network-wide Go Move Challenge, Kisylia oversees her own university’s holistic and nationally-recognized wellness program, GoUSF. She says, “What we’re finding more and more with each year that GoUSF promotes various wellness programming for faculty and staff, is that each dimension of wellness has cross-over effects into other aspects of health. Through surveys and informal feedback, we’ve found that improved physical health also leads to a better emotional state, as employees have more energy, mental clarity and a positive attitude, which translates to better work output and quality time with family among other things. We’ve designed Go Move to be an extension of that.”
Work on the 2018 Go Move Challenge will begin soon, says Kisylia. “Every year, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for AJCU faculty and staff across the country to participate in Go Move. Once a university notifies me of their desire to participate, a university account is created for them and anyone with their university email can sign up for free online.”
The advantages and features of the new website allow each user to:
- View a record of all movement minutes logged, which includes detailed information regarding the exercise category (cardio, strength/resistance, mind/body, and sports/fitness), dates, duration, etc.
- Enter movement minutes for one day or multiple days, as often as desired
- View each university’s total minutes and number of participants in real time
- Post messages to each other on the forum section
- Easily share their movement on social media (e.g. the Go Move Challenge Facebook page)
- Download reports by department/school (if user is the challenge administrator), which promotes additional incentive to compete within the university
In addition, Kisylia provides advertising resources and ideas to challenge administrators to take the guess work out of promoting the program to their university. For example:
- High-resolution Go Move Challenge t-shirt graphic (changes yearly), which universities can use to create their own t-shirts and other gear
- Informational flyer templates to share with employees
- Annual promotional video
- Group activities and raffles organized at the department/school level to increase engagement
- Sample calendar of group movement events for employees throughout the month
- Encourage sharing on the Go Move Challenge Facebook and Instagram pages
Scrolling through the Go Move Challenge social media pages, you can get a glimpse of the creative ways that universities stay active during February, a notoriously difficult month to get moving. From post-New Year’s resolution blues, to inclement weather and bouts of the flu, February can easily be the month that everyone is waiting to be over. That’s where the Go Move Challenge becomes particularly effective: participants get moving during an otherwise inactive month.
Whether or not your college or university has participated in Go Move, AJCU institutions can expect to hear from Suzy Kisylia in the coming months about planning for 2018. On behalf of the University of San Francisco, GoUSF wishes you continued health and wellness throughout the year!
Learn more about the results of the 2017 Go Move Challenge by checking out the summary webpage.