UW-Baraboo/Sauk County earns national recognition for health program

March 16, 2018

The University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County is receiving national recognition for implementing a health program that stresses the importance of physical activity to well-being.

The American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine on Campus program encourages universities and colleges to promote physical activity as a vital sign of health. Matt Fencl, assistant professor of health, exercise science and athletics at UW-Baraboo, started the initiative on campus over the summer after hearing about it through his involvement with the American College of Sports Medicine.

“I thought it was a natural fit here,” he said. “It requires a little effort, but it’s something that would really be beneficial in various ways for different people.”

The Exercise is Medicine on Campus program calls on faculty, staff and students to work together to improve the health and well-being of the campus community by making movement a part of the daily campus culture, assessing physical activity at every student health visit and connecting university health care providers with university health fitness specialists to provide a referral system for exercise prescription.

Participating schools establish themselves as gold, silver or bronze level campuses based on their activities and level of engagement. Since its inception, the UW-Baraboo campus has taken on several engagement initiatives, earning silver recognition. Only 15 U.S. and international campuses currently are recognized as gold- or silver-level campuses, most of which are much larger and highly-attended institutions.

UW-Baraboo will be officially recognized May 30 at the 2018 American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Minneapolis.

UW-Baraboo’s healthy engagement activities include a student and staff “campus fitness challenge,” student-led demonstrations on healthy eating and exercise, and participation in the Campus Food Initiative.

UW-Baraboo student Veronica Veloza helped organize healthy eating campaigns on campus, which she said educated students on the importance of a healthy diet.

“I think it was important to address those issues because student diets are typically not the best when they start college,” she said. “We thought it was a great idea to bring a lot of awareness to better eating habits.”

Both Veloza and Fencl say the program has had a significant impact on campus. Veloza said the initiatives should be expanded to local schools and the community. Fencl said a committee of students, staff and faculty members will continue to examine the program to determine where it can be expanded.

“We’ll continue to re-examine on a daily basis what we’ve done for programming, what new things could we do and how could we make it bigger and better,” he said. “It’ll be a work in progress as we go and continuing to build it as much as we can.”