Subscribe to our Newsletter
The Caring Support Blog

Getting to Know the Canadian Health Promoting Universities

January 23, 2024

As the pursuit of holistic wellbeing becomes increasingly important, higher education institutions across Canada are taking the initiative to promote health and wellness within their campuses. This movement is encapsulated by the Okanagan Charter, a groundbreaking health promotion document that several post-secondary institutions in Canada have adopted. In this article, we will explore what the Okanagan Charter is, the benefits of adopting it, and the steps to formally incorporate health promotion actions into your university.

What is the Okanagan Charter?

The Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting University and Colleges is a global charter for health-promoting universities and colleges. It was developed in 2015 at the International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges in Kelowna, British Columbia.

This international charter provides a framework for post-secondary institutions to promote health and wellbeing through their policies, programs, and practices. It focuses on creating supportive environments, strengthening community engagement, reorienting education and research, and fostering healthy public policy.

Post-Secondary Schools that Pioneered the Adoption of Okanagan Charter in Canada

Six Canadian universities have taken the lead in adopting the Okanagan Charter and integrating health promotion into several aspects of campus culture to show that they recognize the role of health promotion in upholding public health. These educational institutions jointly signed the formal commitment to the Okanagan Charter in October 2016. These include the following Canadian universities:

Through their commitment to health-promoting universities, these schools have become pioneers in creating a culture of wellbeing and sustainability on their campuses and have envisioned other universities to follow suit. These universities have also pledged to invest in implementing health-promoting activities, including creating health education courses relevant to health promotion, such as mental health first aid and resilience courses.

Benefits of Adopting the Okanagan Charter

Adopting the Okanagan Charter brings numerous benefits to universities and their communities. Here are some of the benefits of adopting the Okanagan Charter in your respective universities:

A list summarizing the benefits of adopting the Okanagan Charter.

Shows Leadership in Meaningful Activities Related to Health, Wellbeing, and Sustainability

Adopting the Okanagan Charter can show leadership in meaningful health, wellbeing, and sustainability activities by integrating these principles into institutional values, operations, curriculum, and community engagement while emphasizing accountability and progress measurement.

Encourages the Community to Be Involved

Adopting the Okanagan Charter can encourage community involvement by fostering partnerships, sharing knowledge, seeking community input, providing access to resources, supporting community initiatives, involving the community in research, and promoting transparency. This can lead to a more inclusive and collaborative approach to promoting health, wellbeing, and sustainability within the broader community.

Enhances the Overall Wellbeing of the Campus Community

Adopting the Okanagan Charter enhances the overall wellbeing of students, staff, and faculty by promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing resources for mental health support. This, in turn, can lead to improved academic performance and increased satisfaction among students and staff.

Adopting the said charter can also help create a more inclusive and equitable campus environment. By prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all individuals, universities can foster a sense of belonging and create opportunities for everyone to thrive.

Active Participation in Health Promotion

Adopting the Okanagan Charter can encourage active participation in health promotion by creating supportive environments, empowering individuals, promoting inclusivity, fostering a culture of wellbeing, organizing health campaigns, encouraging peer support, integrating health promotion into the curriculum, and recognizing participation. This can lead to a more engaged and empowered approach to health promotion within educational institutions and their surrounding communities.

Steps to Formally Incorporate the Health Promotion Actions to Your University

Incorporating health promotion actions into a university requires a systematic approach. The following steps outline a framework for universities to formally adopt the Okanagan Charter and implement campus health promotion initiatives.

Start the Conversation About Adopting the Okanagan Charter

The first step towards incorporating health promotion actions is initiating dialogue among key university community stakeholders. This includes faculty, staff, students, and administrators. By raising awareness about the Okanagan Charter and its potential benefits, universities can generate interest and garner support for its adoption.

Create a Framework for Campus-Specific Okanagan Charter Commitment

Once there is consensus on adopting the Okanagan Charter, it is essential to tailor its principles to the specific needs and context of the university. This involves creating a framework that outlines the commitments, goals, and strategies for health promotion on campus. The framework should align with the overall mission and values of the institution.

Make the School Leader Sign the Statement of Adoption

To formalize the commitment to the Okanagan Charter, it is crucial for the university's top leadership to sign a Statement of Adoption. This demonstrates their support and commitment to prioritizing health promotion within the institution. The involvement of senior leadership is instrumental in driving the implementation of health promotion initiatives.

Submit the Statement of Adoption Document to the CHPCN Chair

After the Statement of Adoption is signed, it should be submitted to the Chair of the Canadian Health Promoting Campuses Network (CHPCN). The CHPCN serves as a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing among health-promoting universities in Canada. By submitting the document, the university becomes an official member of this network and gains access to valuable resources and support.

Celebrate the Adoption of Okanagan Charter in the University

The adoption of the Okanagan Charter is a significant milestone for any university. It is important to celebrate this achievement and recognize the collective efforts of the university community. This can be done through public announcements, events, or other creative initiatives that engage and inspire the campus community.

Sustainable Practices to Follow Through the Commitment

Adopting the Okanagan Charter is just the beginning. To ensure the long-term success of health promotion initiatives, universities should follow sustainable practices that allow for continuous improvement and evaluation. The following practices can help universities effectively implement and assess their commitment to the Okanagan Charter:

A list summarizing sustainable practices to follow through the commitment to the Okanagan Charter.

Lay Out a Strategic Plan

A strategic plan provides a roadmap for implementing health promotion activities and ensures that efforts are aligned with the overall objectives of the university. The plan should outline specific goals, strategies, and timelines for each health promotion initiative, as well as allocate resources and designate responsible individuals or departments.

Delegate Tasks to Leaders who will Initiate Related Activities

To effectively implement the strategic plan, it is essential to delegate tasks to leaders within the university who will drive specific health promotion activities. These leaders can be faculty members, staff, or students who have a passion for health promotion and possess the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the assigned tasks.

Define Actionable Milestones

To monitor progress and ensure accountability, universities should define actionable milestones for each health promotion initiative. These milestones should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART), allowing for a clear evaluation of the effectiveness of the activities.

Regularly Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Activities

Evaluation is a crucial component of sustainable health promotion. Universities should regularly assess the impact of their health promotion initiatives and make necessary adjustments based on the findings. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or other evaluation methods that gather feedback from the campus community.

Celebrate the Achievements

Recognizing the achievements and successes of health promotion initiatives is essential for sustaining motivation and engagement. Universities should celebrate milestones, share success stories, and acknowledge individuals or teams that have made significant contributions to the advancement of health promotion on campus.

Help your students throughout their healthcare career journey through Caring Support.

Create a More Supportive School Environment With Caring Support

Canadian universities have the opportunity to create a transformative educational experience that prioritizes the wellbeing of their campus community, thus showing their support for the vision of health organizations, including the World Health Organization and UNESCO, and educational institutions when they drafted the charter in June 2015.

The adoption of the Okanagan Charter not only enhances the overall health and wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff but also creates a supportive and inclusive environment that fosters personal growth and academic success. As more universities join this movement, the health-promoting universities initiative will continue to shape the future of post-secondary education in Canada.

At Caring Support, we're committed to helping post-secondary institutions that offer healthcare courses to make their students feel a sense of belonging and feel more taken care of through meaningful connections and follow-throughs and allowing them to land their dream jobs. Contact us today to become one of our partner post-secondary institutions. Together, we can create a positive impact on the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff.

About The Author
Cam Adajar
Content Writer

Find Your Dream Job Today!

Get updates from Caring Support

We'll keep you updated on all new application updates and features!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.