Organizations across the country are increasingly developing policies that prioritize health and wellness. In Greater Cincinnati, there’s a new generation of change-makers preparing to lead the way for their communities.

Recognizing this, The American Cancer Society (ACS) and United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC) partnered to offer training in organizing techniques to help students become advocates for increased access to healthy eating options and physical activities on their campuses.

On April 8, students representing the University of Cincinnati (UC), Xavier University (XU), and Miami University of Ohio (MU) gathered at University of Cincinnati’s McMicken Hall to attend the four-hour “Creating Healthy Changes” session. Planners from ACS and its Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) organized and staffed the day, partnering with Project Impact students through the Lindner College of Business at UC.

Denisha Porter
Denisha Porter, Director of Health Promotion Department for Cincinnati Health Department, and attendees

We recently chatted with trainer Laura Metzler, Senior Director, Community Engagement for the East Central Division of American Cancer Society, Inc. to learn more about the event and its outcomes:

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  • Is this the first year for Creating Healthy Changes? Are there plans to make it an annual event?
    This was the first training, we are hoping to do this annually and continue to grow the event and build upon the changes they are making on campus.
  • Did students participate in the planning? If so, how did you engage them around creating healthy changes?
    We did partner with Project Impact through the college of business at UC. They helped complete surveys on healthy eating and active living environments on UC’s campus and helped recruit students to attend the workshop.
  • Who was the audience? How many attendees would you estimate were there?
    We had 15 students, most of whom were marketing or health promotion students.
  • Did anything stand out that was particularly well-received or generated the most interest among students?
    They were very engaged and interactive with discussing what the campuses are already doing to be healthier. A lot of discussion around food options, food catering contracts, and increasing fresh fruit and vegetables and decreasing fried food/red meats.
  • What makes Creating Healthy Changes unique? What do you hope attendees will take away from the event?
    The workshop is unique since this will all be student-led when they go back to their campus. They are being charged to go back and recruit more students to get involved and make change. We are hoping they leave feeling educated, empowered, and excited to make positive impact changes on campus.
  • What’s next for Creating Healthy Changes?
    Next, the students will take what they learned back to their campuses and try to make healthy changes and increase healthy living options for their fellow students. We will continue to stay in touch with the students to help them be successful in their efforts.


Denisha, Nika, Lori
Denisha Porter (Cincinnati Health Dept), Nika Souder (ACS), Lori Davies (ACS Cancer Action Network)

Student reaction to the day’s activities was energizing and positive:

“Since I’m also an employee of UC, I’d like to see the employee wellness programs and student wellness centers partner closer together.” – Carole, Master of Health Education student, UC

“I want to work with XU’s food services personnel to explore ways to decrease meat consumption on campus, and increase fresh fruits and vegetables in turn.” – Emily, Marketing student, XU

Where can you go to learn more about the event? About creating healthy changes on YOUR campus? For more information, contact Andrea Britcher at