“A nation’s health is its most precious asset. And while America has seen great gains in improving health overall, some Americans face much poorer prospects for good health and long life than others....Finding solutions to avoidable differences in health requires looking beyond the medical care system to acknowledge and address the many other factors that also can determine a person’s health."
-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2008). Overcoming Obstacles to Health – page 5
The strength and well-being of a community depends on the health and well-being of all people who live there. Within our local communities many residents do not have access to the resources and supports necessary for their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. With its passionate students and expert faculty across numerous fields related to health and well-being, UMass Amherst is poised to play a key role in improving the quality of life for many residents in local neighborhoods.
What we do at CESL
By building and maintaining long-term partnerships with community organizations, consulting with faculty, and training student leaders, CESL supports a range of courses and programs focused on health and well-being. Our initiatives engage students in meaningful learning while they support a wide range of initiatives in local communities. Examples of service-learning activities include: providing opportunities for recreation, companionship, and skill development for people with mental and physical disabilities, supporting community farming and gardening, engagment with local health and welness programs and clinics, and partnering to provide meals and clothing to homeless and low income members of our community.
In the words of one student
Ashley Sullivan (UMass '12)
My honors capstone, supported by UMass CESL, allowed me to creatively and proactively bring my research and knowledge of environmental health to the Holyoke Community. Having prior experience in Holyoke, through Service-Learning courses, I understood how to effectively approach community leaders and organizations, to work with them on their environmental health concerns. Learning of Holyoke’s high asthma rates, I conducted research and created informational flyers in English and Spanish about environmental hazards that induce asthma symptoms, as well as several other environmental illnesses. The flyers are helping to educate Holyoke residents about the city’s prevalent asthma problem and gave families options to prevent asthma symptoms. My honors capstone reflects the person I became at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. My CESL project left me feeling proud of my work and myself as it gave me the opportunity to use my knowledge and skills, to work with community partners to better the health of others.
ANTHRO 205 Inequality & Oppression (Julie Pimentel)
COMM 494FI - Food as Communication (Leda Cooks)
PLSOILIN 397C -Community Food Systems (Catherine Sands)
PUBHLTH 160 - My Body My Health (Dan Gerber)
SRVCLRNG 298- The Boltwood Project (Carol Soules)
STOCKSCH 297NR - Nuestras Raices: Community Farming and Food Security (John Gerber, Carol Soules)