University Extension sponsors Living Well Campaign


Mark Capapas

Patrons of CRCE use the workout machines located on the workout floor on Feb. 19.

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

Throughout March, the University Extension will focus on a campaign that promotes a holistic, healthy lifestyle. They will be hosting free online programs and events open to all students on campus.

Cheri Burcham, University Extension educator in family life, describes the campaign as having a “two-fold” goal. 

“We want to make people aware that there are family consumer science educators in the University Extension,” Burcham said. “The second part of it is the actual programs.” 

The programs include education on meal planning, food budgeting, brain health programs, healthful foods, exercise and smart financing. 

On Wednesday, an introductory program for nutrition and brain health will begin at the Lodgic Everyday Community Event Hall in Champaign, followed by five other sessions that each explore different aspects under this topic.

Other March programs in Champaign-Urbana include a financial well-being series, an event exploring physical activity interventions for older adults and the disABILITY Resource Expo, with the goal to promote a better quality of life for people with disabilities. 

One of the highlights the Living Well Campaign is trying to educate the public on is smart financial decision-making and saving. According to PwC’s 2019 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 59% of full-time employed U.S. adults said that financial matters and challenges cause them the most stress, above their jobs, relationships, health concerns and miscellaneous stressors. 

“If we can help students start to build the habit now, to set aside some money so they have (it) as a security if they need it, then when they are at full-time jobs, it will be a habit that they can grow and start to save for different kinds of financial goals they have,” said Kathryn Sweedler, consumer economics educator from the University Extension.

Sweedler added that financial worries can affect one’s wellness at work and their physical state, such as added stomachaches and headaches. It can also cause conflict with significant people, such as family and friends. 

There are programs the University Extension offers that run all year and are open for the general public to register. Most of the programs are free, unless certain materials are needed for an activity, according to Burcham. Accommodations for language barriers or disabilities are also a goal of the campaign. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that Americans who maintained five healthy lifestyle factors lived more than a decade longer than those who did not maintain any of the five. The five factors examined were maintaining a healthy eating pattern, not smoking, drinking moderately, exercising weekly and keeping a healthy body weight. 

“I think it’s really important for everybody, including students, to start thinking about how maintaining their wellness in different arenas adds to their overall wellness,” Sweedler said. 

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