Students living in a new dorm at the University of Vermont (UVM) are taking their health to the next level.
UVM’s Wellness Environment, more commonly known as WE, is a new, substance-free dorm that goes beyond just banning drugs and alcohol.Students who choose to live there must take a class called “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies” which teaches students about different things that affect body and brain health. WE students also have access to yoga and meditation, healthy foods, and a free gym membership. They can also consult nutrition and fitness coaches who assist them on their wellness journeys. The dorm has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol. If a student is found with either, they’re kicked out. “We created an environment where we believe if we offer young people healthy foods, healthy choices, they’ll make them. We reward those things, and we don’t encourage the negative things, so the rule in the environment is no alcohol, no drugs, and the students follow it,” Dr. Jim Hudziak, the chief of child psychiatry at the UVM’s Larner College of Medicine, who founded the WE program, said. The WE way of life seems to be catching on: the program, which started with just 120 freshman last year, has almost quadrupled this semester. WE students pay the same rate as students who live in other campus housing. Students can also track their activities through an app, and earn “coins” to purchase WE shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other items. University student Hannah Bryant, of Brewster, MA, said she enjoys WE’s food, yoga and meditation options. Bryant added that the WE lifestyle has already been beneficial for her. “Just like already within the first three weeks of school has already made a huge difference,” she said. “And it’s things like this, the 30 minutes, that can really change your week around.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.