It wasn’t long ago that the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative was just a dream — one imagined by philanthropists Terry and Jane Semel as a way to integrate total mind and body health and well-being into the culture of UCLA.
That dream became a reality in January 2013 with the launch of HCI, which works to meet these goals using existing programs and resources on the campus, coupled with new ideas and the energy of UCLA students, staff, faculty and administrators.
“We thank the Semels for their vision and for their ongoing support in helping us make UCLA one of the healthiest campuses in America,” said Dr. Wendy Slusser, associate vice provost of the Healthy Campus Initiative. “We continue to make significant strides in helping to shape the culture of UCLA into one that makes physical, emotional and social well-being a priority and finding ways to engage our students in positive and meaningful ways.”
On May 4, the campus community and members of the public will come together to celebrate the positive impact of this initiative at UCLA and beyond. The event, #DreamRevolution, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at UCLA’s new living amphitheater, located at Sunset Recreation Center.
“The living amphitheater is truly a dream come true,” Jane Semel said. “When we embarked on this project four years ago, we already knew that just being in a garden for 10 minutes is so beneficial to both physical and mental health. We’re truly proud of the living amphitheater and of the Healthy Campus Initiative, and of all of the support Chancellor Block has given to make this dream a reality.”
To date, HCI has inspired similar healthy campus efforts across the University of California. The UC Global Food Initiative, created to coordinate resources across the UC system to address global food needs, was established in 2013.
This summer, the University of California will launch the UC Healthy Campus Network, which aims to make UC the healthiest place to work, learn, and live by creating a strong and sustainable coordinating infrastructure for food, health and wellness programs, activities, and policies for students, faculty and staff.
HCI was also a model for the Healthier Campus Initiative, launched in 2014 by the Partnership for a Healthier America and led by former first lady Michelle Obama and others, to improve health and wellness on college campuses across the country. Currently, more than 40 colleges participate.
The living amphitheater is the result of a partnership between HCI and One Gun Ranch in Malibu. The amphitheater will be used to host UCLA events and provide opportunities for the UCLA community to learn about gardening and sustainable farming through service and teaching.
“The living amphitheater reflects what the Healthy Campus Initiative aspires to achieve: a dynamic, vibrant, and healthy campus engaged in all aspects of personal and community well-being,” Slusser said. “It’s the newest addition to the Healthy Campus Initiative’s ongoing effort to build medicinal and community garden spaces at UCLA. The space is a beautiful built environment that reduces stress, grows healthful food, supports the creation of a sustainable food system, and brings people together.”
Each of the 31 raised beds will be adopted by student groups, campus departments and units, and UCLA-affiliated groups and individuals who will take care of beds throughout their growing cycles, Slusser said. She added that there is no cost to adopt a raised bed, however those taking responsibility for one must buy seeds and donate half of any yielded produce to programs that alleviate student hunger at UCLA, including those at the CPO Food Closet and Café 580.
One of the first people to tour the living amphitheater when it was nearing completion was singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc, who was nominated for a Grammy in the Best R&B category for his album “Lift Your Spirit” in 2015. Blacc, known widely for his singles “The Man” and “Wake Me Up,” has also previously been nominated for the Image Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. He will return to the amphitheater on May 4 for this special event.
Also in attendance will be Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers forward and advocate for mental health and healthy eating. World Peace, who was also a panelist at last year’s HCI celebration, will be taking photos with guests at a selfie-booth.
Other event highlights include:
- A 1960s-inspired adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” featuring actors and designers from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s theater department The play is directed by Joe Olivieri, head of UCLA TFT’s undergraduate acting program.
- A reception featuring food by LocoL, a restaurant co-owned by acclaimed chef and entrepreneur Roy Choi. Choi, who has also previously visited the living amphitheater as it was being created, was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and 2016.
- Poster presentations featuring some of the student projects that HCI has funded during the past year.
- Prizes and giveaways sponsored by Whole Foods, smartwater, KIND and Jawbone
The event will also feature the presentation of the jane b semel Healthy Campus Initiative Appreciation and Recognition Awards, which honor UCLA students, faculty, staff and senior administrators for significant contributions to individual, departmental, divisional goals and objectives that promote health and wellness at UCLA. Longtime campus architect Jeff Averill, who died in March, was honored earlier this year. This year’s other honorees are:
- Marquell Craddock, medical student, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
- Elloi Delos Reyes, office manager, department of general internal medicine and health science research
- Mike Lee, associate director, UCLA social sciences computing
- Kelly Shedd, FITWELL assistant program director, recreation
- Artemisia Valeri, MindWell pod coordinator, Semel Institute
- May Wang, professor, community health sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health