By Rosie Alger
Elm Staff Writer
Recently, Washington College’s S.H.I.E.L.D., which stands for Students Helping to Improve Each other’s Lives Daily, club invited a speaker to come and talk to the campus community about eating disorders and their dangers. S.H.I.E.L.D. hosts many similar events to raise awareness and has made it their goal to provide an education for students on how to live a healthy lifestyle.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of a greater group of peer educators in various colleges and communities, called The BACCHUS Network. According to their mission statement, “The BACCHUS Network is a university and community based network focusing on comprehensive health and safety initiatives. It is the mission of this non-profit organization to actively promote student and young adult-based campus and community-wide leadership on healthy and safe lifestyle decisions concerning alcohol abuse, tobacco use, illegal drug use, unhealthy sexual practices, and other high-risk behaviors.”
The club has helped get a lot more students invested in their own health and the well-being of others. Lauren Gibson, director of wellness and prevention education, and Lisa Marx, director of Health Services, co-advise the club at WC. Marx said, “Seeing the excitement of our students to promote healthier lifestyles on campus and watching them engage their peers in educational opportunities is really awesome. I know they want to make a positive impact on the health of our community.”
Freshman Sarah Hawkins is the club’s vice president of public relations. Aside from hosting the recent speaker from The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, Hawkins said, “We have handed out fact sheets about bullying and suicide prevention. We have hosted awareness movie nights in the Sass Lounge. We are currently becoming certified Peer Wellness Educators.”
S.H.I.E.L.D. works to spread awareness and aid for all areas of health, including mental health. “My favorite part of participating in S.H.I.E.L.D. is that we get to give a voice to the issues that no one wants to talk about. They’re out there, and silence only makes them grow, so why not bring them into the light,” said Hawkins. “Everybody knows somebody that’s suffered from anxiety, an eating disorder, alcoholism, addiction, etc. These issues are so widespread, and it’s important we get the word out but to do that, we need everyone’s help.”
The club has a few events coming up that students, and members of the WC community are encouraged to attend. There will be an alcohol education event on March 17 and a body-image event on March 31.
If you have any interest in joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and becoming a peer educator, contact the club leaders, co- presidents senior Kevin Lair and junior Aydan Sultanova. It is never too early to start thinking seriously about long-term health goals in your life, whether they be related to food, mental health, or alcohol and tobacco use. Marx said, “I wish more students would get involved in making our campus a healthier place to live. This is where lifelong habits are formed.”