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UTTC Wellness Circle selected for public health award
June 10 2014

BISMARCK (UTN) – The United Tribes Technical College Wellness Circle has been selected to receive the “Public Health Team of the Year Award” from the North Dakota Public Health Association.

            The award recognizes a team that has worked collaboratively on a unique, creative, or outstanding public health effort in the past year.
The association singled-out the group’s work in establishing United Tribes as a tobacco-free college campus.

            The UTTC Wellness Circle guided implementation of a policy banning tobacco products and tobacco use from the campus for all purposes but Native American ceremonies. It is the first tribal college in North Dakota to go tobacco-free.

            The award will be presented June 19 in Grand Forks during the 2014 Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health.

            The United Tribes tobacco-free policy is an outgrowth of a campus wellness initiative started 12 years ago by former UTTC President David M. Gipp. The effort underscored the college’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the more than 1,000 students, faculty, staff and children who are on the campus daily.

            The effort to curb smoking paralleled state and national programs aimed at improving learning and productivity, lowering rates of absenteeism, and addressing organizational health insurance issues.

            The UTTC policy was adopted by the college’s administrative council and signed by Gipp on November 21, 2013, the 38th anniversary of the Great American Smoke Out. It became effective January 1, 2014.

            It prohibits the use of tobacco on campus properties, in campus-owned vehicles, and at institution sponsored off-campus functions. It applies to any product containing or manufactured from tobacco or containing nicotine. It also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes.

            Exempted is the traditional or sacred use of tobacco. United Tribes continues to be a “tobacco honoring” campus for Native American spiritual and cultural ceremonies, when requests are made and approved in advance.
United Tribes is the third tribal college nationwide to take the comprehensive step of becoming tobacco-free, joining Fort Peck Community College, Poplar, MT, and Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, SD.

            The UTTC Wellness Circle is coordinated by Pat Aune, United Tribes Land Grant Programs director. The group comprised of representatives of campus departments worked with representatives of Bismarck Burleigh Public Health and the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control and Policy. Other initiatives of the group include establishing a policy and facilities that welcome breastfeeding, and a campus bike share program.

            The tobacco-free policy has placed more emphasis on quitting smoking. The college’s Wellness Center hosts smoking cessation programs, along with individual services and assistance from the college’s family nurse practitioner. Assistance from additional, off campus sources is also provided.
Attending the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health for United Tribes will be Nutrition and Food Service Instructor Wanda Agnew, a past president of the ND Public Health Association.

For more information, please contact Pat Aune 701-255-1399, paune@uttc.edu.

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