[Fresh] Center for Health and Wellness Interview

Kelly Donio (kelly.donio@villanova.edu)
Wed, 21 Sep 2005 10:20:51 -0400

Interview with Catherine Lovecchio, Director, Center for Health and
Wellness Education

Fresh@News: Tell us a little about the Center for Health and Wellness
Education?

Cathy Lovechhio: The mission of our Center is to provide education on
the many different college health-related issues that students face.
Some main topics we deal with are alcohol and drugs, sexual assault,
sexual health, nutrition, fitness, stress management, etc. We have
seventy student peer educators who provide most of our interactive
programming to the students. Peer education has shown to be very
effective because students are hearing the information from someone
within their own age group. The Center is located on the ground floor of
the Health Services Building, next to the main gate.

Fresh@News: What are some of the highlights of the semester?

We are doing a lot of campus coordinated programming, meaning that we
have connected with many different departments to provide larger size
educational events for the students. The results in attendance have been
more positive because the different departments are either requiring
student presence or helping in promoting the event. A lot of campus
organizations have jumped on board such as CAT, Greek Life, Athletics,
Multicultural Affairs, Residence Life, Peace and Justice, Academics and
the Villanovan.

Fresh@News: How do students use the Center?

Cathy Lovechhio: We have an open door policy at the Center, so that any
student can feel free to walk in. They can take brochures about
particular issues, or speak to a health educator about their different
concerns. Our website is always updated and available for the students
to use for researching different health issues or informing themselves
of our upcoming events. In fact students often visit the Center when
they are working on a paper and need more resources. Many students also
attend the programs we offer, which are held both in the Center and
around campus.

Fresh@News: Can you explain the AlcoholEDU course?

Cathy Lovechhio: AlcoholEDU is an online educational program that has
made an impact on the decisions of our students regarding alcohol. It is
a 2.5-3 hour web-based alcohol prevention program being used at more
than 350 colleges and universities around the country. The program uses
the latest prevention techniques and science-based research to educate
students about the impact of alcohol on the mind and body. Whether or
not your son/daughter drinks alcohol, AlcoholEDU for College will
empower your son/daughter to make well-informed decisions about alcohol
and help him or her better cope with the drinking behavior of peers. The
program is mandatory for all freshmen students.

Fresh@News: What is the purpose of requiring all freshmen to participate?

Cathy Lovechhio: Villanova takes alcohol education very seriously. We
utilize a 4-pronged approach to educating our first-year students. Your
son or daughter received education regarding alcohol first at
orientation, where students had a simulated party followed by a
comprehensive discussion of many issues relating to alcohol. Next, they
were given a prize poster that has key points about decision making,
which students are encouraged to hang up in their room. Peer educators
will follow up in the residence halls and any student who has the poster
receives a prize. This gives the peer educators an opportunity to
dialogue with the student about how they are handling alcohol issues
thus far in their college career.

Our third approach is through AlcoholEDU, where students learn valuable
information at their own pace. The final approach is through the “String
Game,” an interactive program given by peer educators in the residence
halls. The String Game takes the student through a story of
several college friends and how the choices they make around many
different issues, such as sexual assault, sexual health and alcohol,
affect their lives. This interactive program is followed by a discussion
on critical issues and how they may impact their lives during their
college years. The peer educators provide many strategies for the
students so that they may make informed and healthy decisions.

Fresh@News: What are some main goals of educating freshmen about alcohol?

Cathy Lovechhio: Our main goal is to provide them with enough current
information so that they can make healthy choices. The key here is
safety. We want our students to be as safe as possible and to avoid the
negative effects of either their own personal use of alcohol or their
friends. Some negative consequences include relationship issues,
academic struggles, family problems, financial difficulties or health
disturbances.

Fresh@News: Do you think many freshmen are aware of the dangers of
alcohol prior to completing the AlcoholEDU course?

Cathy Lovechhio: Often, freshmen have the mentality of feeling
invincible, which is normal. However, these invincible feelings may lead
them to make poor choices that they feel will not impact them. So, even
though they are aware of the risks of alcohol they cannot hear it
enough. Freshmen also tell us that even though they had alcohol
education in high school, they have learned more information regarding
alcohol after completing AlcoholEdu. The online format is more
attractive to students and is an easily accessible way to further their
knowledge on the dangers of alcohol.

Fresh@News: Do the students retain the information that they learned
from the course?

Cathy Lovechhio: There is a pre-test and post-test within the course, as
well as a 30-day follow up to assess how much of the material was
remembered. At that 30-day mark, the students have shown that they still
have a high rate of the knowledge previously attained. I dialogue a lot
with upper classmen students, and have discovered that they are much
more in tune with the issues, especially health concerns, since the
program has been implemented. The students understand the importance of
maintaining a healthy lifestyle and what excessive drinking could do to
their health.

Fresh@News: What is Villanova’s approach toward underage drinking?

Cathy Lovechhio: We uphold the PA law. We do not promote any kind of
underage drinking whatsoever. As most universities, Villanova expects
its’ students want to make good decisions around alcohol. We provide the
students with the information on how to do so. The university’s primary
goal is education. We are not punitive, although fines are attached to
many of the violations so that students understand the seriousness of
their behavior. As a university, we understand that students may
experiment with alcohol, so it is our responsibility to take the
necessary measures to inform them of the dangers so that this mistake
can be prevented in the future.

Fresh@News: What would you advise parents to say when speaking to their
son/daughter about college drinking?

Cathy Lovechhio: It is important to have an open dialogue with your
son/daughter. During fall break, talk to them candidly about what they
are seeing at college, how they are reacting to it and how it is making
them feel. A lot of students don’t drink, but see it and are exposed to
it. Parents should reinforce that there are a lot of resources on campus
if their son/daughter feels like s/he is having issues with alcohol or
is nervous being around it. Some resources on campus available for
mentoring are the Residence Assistants, Counseling Center, Student
Health Center, Health and Wellness Education, Public Safety, Assistant
Dean for Alcohol and Drug Intervention and faculty members.

Fresh@News: What resources are available to parents?

Cathy Lovechhio: Our website, www.villanova.edu/healthandwellness is a
great resource available to the parents. They certainly can speak to any
health educator in the office if they are concerned about an issue their
son/daughter is facing. If we cannot handle the problem ourselves, we
have a lot of referrals and can direct parents to the appropriate area.
Also, parents can take AlcoholEDU program themselves (see instructions
below). We encourage this because it will give parents an understanding
of what their son or daughter is experiencing. They could also have a
conversation with their child about the material presented in the
program. With their active particpation, parents can reinforce the
information.

Instructions for AlcoholEdu:
* Go to: http://college.alcoholedu.com/login.asp
* Under New User enter the following Login ID: 5C2959PARENT
* Click “Sign Up” and follow the on-screen prompts
* You may log in and out of the course at the end of each section.
Section ends are marked with a “Next” button. DO NOT log out until you
click the “Next” button or you will have to repeat the section you have
just gone through.
* When you return, log in as a Returning User and enter the same email
address and password you created when you first logged into the course.

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