As fall Fresh Check Day's begin to wrap up, many of you are already starting to think about your next Fresh Check Day! Whether you plan on hosting a Fresh Check Day in the spring or later on next year, it can be hard to think of ways to keep your Fresh Check Day fun, exciting, and relevant to students on your campus from year to year. This month Erin Cox, Psy.D. and former Director of Outreach at UConn Student Health & Wellness has some great tips and knowledge to share on how UConn Storrs keeps their Fresh Check Day an exciting event that students look forward to from year to year.
How to Keep Fresh Check Day "Fresh" From Year to Year Erin Cox, Psy.D.
Here at UConn-Storrs, we’re proud of being the longest continuously running Fresh Check Day campus. Hosting this event year after year has its benefits, as well as challenges. We have found our groove with messaging, figured out the best location on campus for visibility, and solidified numerous partnerships who support this event annually. Fresh Check Day has become a cornerstone event of our campus-wide Suicide Prevention Committee, as well as a key part of UConn’s annual Spring Weekend. Every year feels as though it goes a bit more smoothly than the last. When something becomes routine, however, you must work diligently to keep it exciting and fresh for all involved. At UConn, we push ourselves each spring to bring new energy and ideas to invigorate our Fresh Check Day.
What’s our secret? I attribute our success in keeping it fresh to two main factors, the first being the creative energy of our 30+ member Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC), and secondly, our tradition of building the event around a central theme. SPC members are constantly keeping their eyes, ears, and minds open to theme ideas and sending them my way. At our annual breakfast meeting in February, we do a group brainstorming session where we think about theme ideas and ways in which we could incorporate those concepts into booth activities. Members come from all over campus, representing various support offices, academic departments, and student clubs. We have folks of all different ages, backgrounds, and representing fields as diverse as engineering, farming, advising, and health services. With so many unique experiences in the room, our brainstorming sessions create imaginative and bold ideas for the event.
In my time at UConn, our themes have included “What’s Your Superpower,” “Fresh Check Fairgrounds,” “Camp Fresh Check,” and “Fresh Check Bloom.” Booth leaders are encouraged to be creative in their interpretation of booth activities and decorations in order to match the overarching theme. During the “What’s Your Superpower” event, many booth volunteers dressed up in superhero costumes. When we hosted “Fresh Check Fairgrounds,” we played into the summer fair concept by including a station where students could pet baby cows and chicks (thanks to our great friends in the Department of Animal Science). During “Camp Fresh Check,” we had booths which incorporated Truth or Dare activities, camping tents, and even offered a s’more making station! Most recently, “Fresh Check Bloom” encouraged students to practice a growth mindset, plant seedlings while learning about the connection between nature and mental health, and of course included flower crowns.
Ultimately, no matter what campus you are on, Fresh Check Day is a team effort. The event becomes more inventive and impactful through the work of a committed group of students, faculty, and staff. This collaborative approach has served our campus well throughout all of our mental health and suicide prevention efforts, and especially so with an event as important as Fresh Check Day. Of course, a few superhero costumes and baby cows don’t hurt!