February is Black History Month and UNC Campus Recreation is celebrating with its Black Health Matters event. On Feb. 13, rec members can participate in a Trap Workout Event starting at 8:15 p.m. in the SRC Group Fitness Studios.
Following the workout, Donnae Ward Laughinghouse, UNC Campus Recreation coordinator for fitness services, will be leading a discussion on the importance of health for Black students.
“I want students of color to know, because there’s a small percentage of students (of color) here, I want them to know that their health does matter,” Ward Laughinghouse said. “Since being here in Campus Recreation, not a lot of students of color come to the rec center because of the lack of representation, or they feel like the programming really isn’t for them."
She said she hopes that Black Health Matters, the first UNC Campus Recreation event centered on the health of students of color, inspires students to focus on and take charge of their mental and physical health.
After starting at UNC Campus Recreation in August 2018, Ward Laughinghouse said she asked what health initiatives there were that focused on students of color. After being told that there weren't any, she decided to change that.
"There's a lot of programming that goes on that doesn't necessarily focus on particular groups," Ward Laughinghouse said. "We're going to talk about physical and mental health, and what better month to do that than February, since it's Black History Month?"
Ward Laughinghouse said that, although current events can impact mental health, not enough attention is given to the issue.
'"When we think about other things that are going on from mass incarcerations to police brutality, all of these different things, sometimes it's really hard," Ward Laughinghouse said. "We don't really think about it on a mental health level, or even things that have happened on this campus. When we had the whole Silent Sam thing going on, like this actually could affect your health and well-being."
Many students of color have said the ongoing controversy over Silent Sam has negatively affected their mental health.
“Knowing and taking charge of what’s going on with your health – you need to start now. This is the perfect place to start, when you’re at this age,” Ward Laughinghouse said.
UNC sophomore Darian Abernathy is looking forward to the celebration event.
“I think this event is something valuable to people in my community, and especially for me, because there’s a disparity when it comes to knowing about African-American health issues,” Abernathy said. “This is going to be really beneficial and really cool."
Eleanor Sprague, a fitness instructor at UNC Campus Recreation, sees this event as a way for Campus Recreation to get better involved in the student community.
“There are a lot of people that go to the gym, but there’s also a lot of people who don’t and are very intimidated by it,” Sprague said. “Having an event that brings them (to the gym) is good.”
In addition to this workout event, UNC Campus Recreation will be honoring influential Black people in the health field on its social media accounts and throughout campus facilities on Feb. 13.
“Even if you’re not a person of color, you’re going to interact, or you’ll want to keep you yourself in the loop of the population that you’re going to be working with,” Ward Laughinghouse said. “It’s an event for everyone to come to.”
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