The Wisconsin County Health Rankings survey reported earlier this year, through a collaboration by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, that Portage County is the third healthiest county in state.
When considering what makes a county healthy, these groups look at leaders in health care, business, education, government and media. They also look at population health in consideration of overall health factors and outcomes.
Jen Sorenson, a physician assistant and interim administrative director at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, feels that this title is a reflection of various UWSP health initiatives.
“I think Stevens Point is small enough that the community and campus reflect each other. Wellness initiatives are well in place on this campus,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson believes that when media provides wellness coverage, it motivates people to become even better health advocates. She hopes that in the future Portage County can be ranked even higher on the list.
“I think that when you have an initiative that is highlighted by media, it can help move things forward,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson listed intramural programs as a large wellness factor for students. UWSP currently offers 22 club sports to students and dozens of intramural programs. Some of the intramural programs include badminton, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, trench and softball.
Lance Kaster, a student in the communication program at UWSP, has been participating in intramural programs since the second block of his freshman year.
“I have participated in volleyball, basketball and badminton. I got so into basketball that I sprained my ankle and was out for six weeks,” Kaster said.
Kaster values intramural programs as a chance to be active throughout the week.
“If I did not participate in intramural programs I would definitely be less active. I have two days a week where I get aerobic exercise that I would not be getting otherwise,” Kaster said.
Matt Teachout, pursuing a sociology degree, feels the same. Teachout has participated in trench, volleyball and indoor soccer througout his involvement with intramural programs.
“I think intramural programs gave me more guaranteed days of being active. I had a chunk of time when I had to be somewhere to be active. It gave me the opportunity to be active for a certain time every week,” Teachout said.
Sorenson also lists the health promotion and wellness major and tobacco free policy as positive health initiatives on campus.
“So much of what we do at Delzell Hall goes beyond operating in the clinic,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson strives to provide care beyond one-on-one consultation. She understands individual health needs with students and helps respond to larger needs by translating them to a larger campus platform.
“It takes a village to raise a healthy person,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson believes health and wellness can be achieved on campus as long as students are open to the opportunities. She hopes that students take advantage of UWSP wellness to carry it with them throughout their lives.
“To realize your potential as an individual, students need to be aware of all levels of wellness,” Sorenson said.
Portage County seems to be seeded by UWSP wellness offered to students at many levels, reaching a variety of needs. These needs are a reflection of community wellness as students continue to become health oriented. Students may become health advocates and push campus wellness throughout Portage County, helping it become second or even first in state health in coming years.