CIT Launches Campus Health Promotion Initiative

CIT Launches Campus Health Promotion Initiative

Published on: Friday, 11 November 2016

Cork Institute of Technology has recently launched a new, multi-campus health promotion initiative, ‘A Healthy CIT’, with the aim to promote, enable and facilitate healthier lifestyle choices across all campuses of the Institute, such as the main campus in Bishopstown, CIT Cork School of Music, CIT Crawford College of Art & Design and the National Maritime College of Ireland.

PHOTO: Andrea Bickerdike (PhD Candidate) and Guest Speaker Aoife Hearne (Resident Dietician on RTE’s Operation Transformation)


Dr. Cian O’Neill, Head of the Department of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies and Chair of the initiative’s Executive Committee, welcomed Guest of Honour Ms. Aoife Hearne (resident dietitian on RTE’s ‘Operation Transformation’) and over sixty interested attendees to an official launch event on the Bishopstown Campus on Wednesday November 1st. Among those in attendance were members of the Institute’s Executive Committee, Institute academic and administrative staff as well as representatives from the Student Engagement Office, Medical Centre, Students Union, Sports Office, Human Resources Department and the CIT Access Service. Key external collaborators such as the Cork Sports Partnership, the HSE and Leisureworld were also present to support the launch event.  


In her keynote address, Ms. Hearne commended the fundamental principles of A Healthy CIT which are ‘empowerment and enabling’ and stressed that graduates of any higher education institution should be equipped with the necessary life skills to maximise their health and wellbeing. In support of this core belief, A Healthy CIT was recently piloted as part of CIT’s nationally-renowned ‘Good Start’ Student Induction Programme in September and October and was a huge success with the student population. This pilot involved a collaborative health blog campaign, campus information desks and a healthy cooking demonstration in conjunction with the Institute’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality. 


Governed by an Executive Committee, and guided by a multiple-stakeholder Steering Committee, A Healthy CIT also has a designated research arm within the Department of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies. An Institute-wide baseline health study has been developed by the research team of Andrea Bickerdike (PhD Candidate), Ms. Joan Dinneen (Lecturer in Health Promotion) and Dr. Cian O’Neill to directly inform the sustainable development of A Healthy CIT.


PHOTO: Executive Committee Members (L-R), Andrea Bickerdike (PhD Candidate), Dr. Cian O’ Neill (Head of Dept.), Joan Dinneen (Lecturer in Health Promotion) along with Guest Speaker Aoife Hearne (Resident Dietician on RTE’s Operation Transformation)


As part of this initiative, CIT policy and the physical environment of each campus will be subjected to a Health Audit, designed to highlight areas where health promotion might be achieved at the policy and environmental levels. Ms. Bickerdike commented that “the research that we have been carrying out for the past 12 months has been very exciting in terms of the level of response received from our first phase of data collection via tailored web-based health questionnaires to students and staff of the Institute. In total we have had over 2,000 student and 280 staff responses, which has provided us with an invaluable database of preliminary information to guide the direction of ‘A Healthy CIT’. The need for health promotion has never been more evident, considering the projected future burden of non-communicable diseases both on a national and global scale. A higher education institution is potentially one of the most influential settings to foster healthier lifestyle choices among large cohorts of students and staff”.


The first official ‘A Healthy CIT’ event will see a series of drop in health screening stations across all campuses of the Institute in the coming days and weeks. In addition to promoting a greater awareness of the importance of key health parameters, the stations will gather key data to determine the fundamental physiological health (height, body mass, girth and blood pressure) of the Institute’s population. This will serve to identify any particular cohorts that may benefit from targeted intervention.


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