Jan 23, 2020

Looking for L.U.V.

Wednesday marked the first meeting of the L.U.V. Program, one of a variety of activities available through Fresno State’s Wellness Challenge.

But only two students were in attendance that night.

Sean Seepersad, however, is eager to provide a place of support and understanding for students who have been experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation, because that is what L.U.V. is all about.

Already in its fourth semester at Fresno State, the L.U.V. Program—which stands for “Lonely? Unburdening your Vulnerability”—was founded by Seepersad, an assistant professor and Ph.D., as a way of reaching out to these students.

“It started out as a part of my dissertation research,” he said. “I developed this intervention program at the University of Illinois, and for two semesters collected data to see how effective it was.”

Seepersad brought the program with him to Fresno State, where it is now in its second year. It’s a free seven-week program for students who are feeling lonely, alienated and may be experiencing difficulty making and keeping friends.

Meetings are held Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., facilitated by Seepersad and previous L.U.V. participants. Topics discussed include the different aspects of loneliness and ways to cope, as well as training in social and communication skills.

Seepersad stresses the importance of assertiveness and not letting others walk all over you or push you around.

“It’s about communicating effectively and listening, especially,” he said.

This is just one component of the program. Each week Seepersad gives participants an assignment to do, along with reading. Participants bring something with them each week to share.

The main goal of the L.U.V. Program is to show these students that they are not alone.

“Part of every meeting is devoted to their progress, to gaining more confidence and increasing self-esteem,” Seepersad said.

By participating in the program, three of the Wellness Challenge’s six components of wellness – emotional, psychological and social – can be achieved.

The other three – physical, spiritual and occupational – may be satisfied through the Wellness Challenge’s host of other activities.

The Wellness Challenge, like L.U.V., is also entering its second year at Fresno State, and wellness coordinator Kathy Yarmo is eager to see the number of students completing the Wellness Challenge increase.

“Our goal is to get more students involved in wellness activities on campus,” she said.

And with about 800 students registered for this year’s Wellness Challenge, there’s little doubt of it reaching that goal.

The program, which runs until April 23, requires participation in three wellness activities to complete the challenge, in addition to making 10 personalized behavior changes. Upon meeting the challenge, Yarmo says, students will receive a free T-shirt and become eligible to win numerous prizes, including travel vouchers worth $1,250 each.

But one of the Wellness Challenge’s many programs needs some love if it is to succeed.

“This year I submitted L.U.V. as an activity for the Challenge,” Seepersad said, “to reach out to those who may feel like they are alone. It’s about making friends and connecting with others. It’s about the students.”

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