The Environmental Health Sciences Student Association (EHSSA) demonstrated that art has a transcendent power that can improve mental health, reduce stress and can foster a sense of community through their "Happy Halls" project. The project introduced colorful canvases with positive haikus focused on health to the halls of the Fielding School of Public Health (FSPH). The venture was funded by a Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI) mini-grant.
Over the course of 9 months EHSSA brought the project to life in three phases. The first phase was an open call to students to submit an original Haiku featuring a positive thought provoking message focused on health. EHSSA students reviewed the submissions and voted on the top 8 to be displayed. The canvases were created in the second phase, art day, a stress free session in which students used a simple art technique to produce vibrant canvases in lively colors. The haikus were added to the canvases in the third phase which also included hanging the completed art pieces near the elevators on each floor in FSPH.
Since their debut the canvases have generated quite a bit of buzz most of which has been very positive. EHSSA collected feedback from students, faculty, staff and visitors through an online survey system. Of the surveys received, 80% of participants indicated that they enjoyed looking at the Haiku art pieces, 61% felt the art helped reduce their stress levels and 72% felt the canvases created a positive impression.
Motivated by the positive feedback, EHSSA entered a poster featuring their Happy Halls project in a poster competition at the Healthy Campus Initiative Symposium on April 30. Their poster was awarded a silver medal, placing the poster in second place among all the submissions from UCLA graduate student groups. Other departments on campus such as UCLA recreation, the Office of Residential Life and the School of Law have already expressed an interest in recreating the project in their halls. EHSSA will continue to maintain the eight canvases currently on display in FSPH in hopes of motivating others to incorporate art in their halls. This innovative project is one example of the positive effect that students can have on their environment through active involvement in their community. The Department of Environmental Health Sciences congratulates EHSSA on the success of their Happy Halls project!