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Student-driven initiative promotes healthy minds, bodies

September 10, 2012

Well Devils Freshman Challenge encourages students to 'weigh in'

Aiming to be the healthiest university in the nation, Arizona State University has launched a large-scale, student-driven effort called the ASU Well Devil Initiative to enhance the health and well-being of its students.

Well Devils, for short, promotes a well mind, body and community to help students achieve their academic, personal and professional potential.  

As part of the Well Devil Initiative this semester, ASU has launched the Well Devils Freshman Challenge to encourage first-year students to adopt a healthy lifestyle and help them to perform at their best – inside and outside the classroom.

Students are being encouraged to start their Freshman Challenge by visiting a Well Devil Zone in select residence halls on all campuses or at the Sun Devil Fitness Center or ASU Health Services on the Tempe campus. More information is available by visiting

The Freshman Challenge is an ASU-Mayo Clinic sponsored research study that will help build a healthy campus. Participation is easy. Students will be asked to swipe their ASU Sun Card, step on a scale and write down their height to help the research team develop a general picture of where freshmen are when they arrive on campus. The weigh stations initially do not show weight to the students stepping on the scales during the initial couple of weeks in which the research study is running, but after that will be converted to scales so people will have access to the information about their weight directly if they wish. Later, students may be contacted again to see if they would like to participate in specific studies or projects on campus.

Students who participate in the study will receive a free T-shirt and be entered into prize drawings including gift cards to the Sun Devil Bookstore.

“The Well Devils Freshman Challenge is one part of a much wider set of activities that transects all parts of ASU," said Professor Alexandra Brewis Slade, director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and director of operations for the ASU-Mayo Clinic Obesity Solutions project. "This isn’t just or even particularly about weight, but also such factors as how we handle stress, think about food, and make exercise a fun part of our daily lives. It is a problem we collectively face.

“We will be working with the experts at Mayo Clinic to use the data to help design the solutions that will be rolled out on campus, and will be testing which ones students find to be most helpful and effective. No one health solution fits all, so it is a matter of using the data to understand which solutions work best for different sets of students.”

According to Karen Moses, director of ASU Wellness, health is an important part of student success.

“The ultimate goal is that students will leave ASU and remain healthy throughout their lives,” Moses said. “We are building a community and culture of wellness. This is a pivotal time in the lives of our students. If they are able to adopt a healthy lifestyle while they are here in our care, then we are contributing to their lives far beyond when they graduate."