A new diploma program at the University of Indianapolis is designed to give graduates a healthy start on adult life and an advantage in the job market.
The Healthy Diploma, similar in concept to an honors diploma, combines 15 credit hours of health and wellness courses with yearly assessments and individual coaching to orient undergraduates toward a lifetime of positive behavior. Aside from the direct personal benefit to the student, the diploma will show prospective employers that the recipient is dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, which has been shown to benefit the workplace through lower healthcare costs, lower rates of injury and absenteeism, higher productivity, and improved morale and retention.
The program was developed by UIndy’s Department of Kinesiology and may be the only one of its kind in the nation, department chair Lisa Hicks says.
“UIndy is on the leading edge of this concept,” says Associate Professor Hicks, noting that 90 percent of healthcare costs involve preventable illness. “We’re trying to make our graduates as marketable as they can be.”
Students can enter the program during their freshman or sophomore years. The coursework ranges from classes in stress management and financial stability to fun physical activity electives such as Aquatics, Social Dance, or Cardio Hip Hop, some of which are open only to Healthy Diploma students. Other requirements include an individual consultation each semester with a wellness adviser and a yearly health risk appraisal, physical fitness test, and wellness assessment.
The program also is expected to improve physical health, academic performance, social responsibility, and general satisfaction for students while still in the midst of their college experience. The goal is not to produce perfect physical specimens but to steer students’ thinking and behavior patterns in a more
“They don’t have to be the picture of health when they begin,” Hicks says. Recipients of the Healthy Diploma will wear honor cords at commencement and will leave UIndy with a certificate of achievement and literature that explains the program to employers.