On Monday Feb 10, the front hallway of the Elliot University Center was dominated by pink tables and several free goodies and activities for passerby students and faculty. Next to the Starbucks was a large sheet of paper that students were encouraged to sign. In doing so, they would promise to be kind to their romantic partners and to only stay in relationships where their partners were kind to them.
These related tables were the beginning of a week-long series of activities related to the Healthy Relationships Initiative in preparation for St. Valentine’s Day.
Program coordinator Camila Dossantos was among the volunteers encouraging students to sign the pledge and learn about conducting healthy relationships.
“[The Healthy Relationships Initiative] is an initiative that is a partnership between UNCG as well as the Phillips Foundation, a local funder,” Dossantos said. “Our mission is to promote healthy, happy and safe relationships of all kinds.”
The Healthy Relationships Initiative established tables along the entire hallway of the Elliot University Center. Each table was dedicated to different resources related to the goals of the initiative.
“Most of the resources we provide through the Healthy Relationships Initiative are more proactive, meant to cause people to act intentionally about their relationships,” Dossantos said. “We have some different tip sheets on how you can maintain self-care in your life or work through conflict or connect with your partner through technology. We also provide information like where to go on campus if you are in an unhealthy relationship.”
Dossantos emphasized the importance of the Initiative’s increased presence on campus on the week of February 10.
“Typically we do most of our outreach in the community, but during the week of Valentine’s Day, we like to come onto campus and talk to college students about the different ways they can keep their relationships healthy,” Dossantos said. “One of the reasons we like to do this around Valentine’s Day is because if you’re not in a relationship, it can be kind of isolating so we like to remind people that their other relationships are just as important as well.“
The information session in the Elliot University Center was only the beginning for the Initiative’s plans for the week.
“We’ve got a special event on Wednesday, at the men’s basketball game, and there’s a discount code for community members, so [students] can bring friends who aren’t UNCG members, and tickets are five dollars,” Dossantos said. “We’re giving out free giveaways and resources.”
Dossantos and other volunteers encourage students who are passionate about healthy relationships to volunteer and help the Initiative in spreading messages of communication and self-worth.
“We’re always seeking volunteers for our different outreach events, and we have several coming up in April,” Dossantos said. “The best place to look is on the the Guilford HR website, www.guilfordhri.org, and we’re also on Facebook and Instagram, where we post a lot about what we’re doing in the community, and on campus we’re located at the Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships on West Gate City Boulevard.”
The Healthy Relationships Initiative and the members in it hope that these events can help the population of UNCG appreciate their current relationships and engage healthily in future ones.
“I think ultimately, through the Healthy Relationships Initiative, we want everyone to know that everybody is worthy of health and safe relationships,” Dossantos said. “If you are not in a healthy or safe relationship, there is help and we really want to encourage people to ask for help before it becomes a crisis. Asking for help does not make you weak.”