by: Emma Springer
The Center for Student Wellness and Health Promotion in coordination with the Peer Body Project, a national study originating at the Oregon Research Institute, conducted a workshop series centered around promoting body positivity for women on May 8.
The program began in Week 3 and ended Week 6, running for a total of four weeks, and was advertised with flyers reading, “Love your body, free your mind.”
The Wellness and Health Promotion office began the program when the Peer Body Project from the Oregon Research Institute contacted UCI in the fall about participating in the study. To begin the program, students and administration were put through a training program. As the program progressed, data from surveys, interviews, and voice recordings were collected for the Peer Body Project. The data collected will be used to bolster the support of health and wellness among students and aid in the expansion of such programs to a greater diversity of individuals.
Wellness and Peer Education Programs Manager Natalie D’Azzo explained, “The idea is to talk about the appearance idea and talk about why it’s not worth it to reach that.”
D’Azzo also noted a deeper focus of the study is looking into support that can be offered to students who struggle with eating disorders, and that students are often surprised when they find out many other people struggle with the same things they do; as a result, students often wonder why so few people are discussing these topics.
At its start, the program only had about 10 to 15 students complete the program. This spring quarter, 40 students signed up to participate. The groups are kept fairly small and only focus on activities and discussion rather than lectures.
Furthermore, peer leaders in the study are provided the opportunity to gain leadership skills while also creating a comfortable experience of growth for everyone involved.
The program will start up again in the fall, hopefully with more participants. D’Azzo also said that some graduate students have reached out regarding the program, but as of now, it is only offered to undergraduates.
The program is offered exclusively to female participants at this time due to the research showing the most success in an all-female setting. However, as the study progresses, it is expected that the opportunity will be extended to more individuals.
To receive more information regarding the program at UCI, students can contact Natalie D’Azzo at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the national Peer Body Project can be found here