The class of 2022 will be the first class to experience the “First 56” initiative, a resolution from the office of Health Promotion and Wellness the Student Government Association Senate passed in April, to encourage healthy decision making among first-year students.
“The 'First 56' is an initiative, beginning with Convocation and lasting until Fall Break, focused on student success,” said Brad Smith, assistant director of student involvement. “The First 56 promotes student engagement, healthy decision making and academic achievement.”
For many first-year students, how they spend their time and what they do during their first 6 weeks of college sets the tone for how the rest of their college life will go.The main goal of the “First 56” is to support students in developing healthy habits early on during those first six weeks, Brad Smith said.
“The ‘56’ is in reference to, obviously Auburn was founded in 1856, and we know that the first 6 weeks of school set the tone for students to establish healthy habits across the board,” said Eric Smith, director of Health Promotion and Wellness. “And in-particular for first-year students, the first 6 weeks, or as we’re calling it the first 56 days of school, can be really influential from a health stand point.”
The "First 56" is being developed and implemented after other universities have implemented similar programs that focus on the first 6 weeks of a new student’s college career, Brad Smith said.
“They saw an opportunity to create an initiative here at Auburn to promote healthy decision making and productive behaviors by getting departments around campus to buy-in to the importance of supporting students’ transition during their first six weeks,” Brad Smith said. “Campus departments will be working over the summer to provide a wide variety of events and services that will be a part of the First 56 in the fall.”
Eric Smith and his team at Health Promotion and Wellness is working with departments across campus to create a list of 56 activities students can do to encourage building healthy habits.
Once students complete the 56 item challenge list, they turn it into the Health Promotion and Wellness office to be entered in contest.
“We want students to complete all the items on the challenge list,” Eric Smith said. “We’re going to enter them in for prizes and even a grand prize.”
Departments around campus are also encouraged to host events throughout the fall semester and tag the “First 56” logo onto their event to encourage students to participate in fun events that promote healthy habits, Eric Smith said.
One example of an event that will count as one of the 56 items on the challenge list and as an event tagged with the “First 56” logo is Convocation. Convocation is the official University welcome for first-year students and is the official kick-off for the “First 56.”
“The 'First 56' is not necessarily about creating new events or services,” Brad Smith said. “Rather, the 'First 56' will help highlight traditional programs and services that support student success.”
Students can attend a signature Welcome Week event, meet with an academic advisor, visit the career center or meet with a professor during their office hours as part of the “First 56” challenge list, Brad Smith said.
“The First 56 will better promote and emphasize all of the opportunities and resources provided to students that support their success,” Brad Smith said. “It will provide students with encouragement to develop healthy habits, decreasing the statistics for high-risk drinking, substance abuse, hazing, sexual assault and other risky behaviors.”
The first six weeks of a student’s college career are important. Eric Smith and members of the Health Promotion and Wellness Office wanted to do something that would show students how important that time is and what they can do to ensure they are building healthy habits.
Teaching students the importance of healthy habits isn’t a job just one department or office can do, it takes a collaboration from offices across campus and that’s what the “First 56” does, Eric Smith said.
“That’s how it all started for us,” Eric Smith said. “To have one unifying message, one campaign that promotes healthy decision making, academic success and student engagement along the way.”