For many Fresno State students, the pandemic has brought upon feelings of isolation and loneliness, making it hard for them to stay motivated during this time.
To help encourage students throughout the last few semesters, the Student Health Center (SHC) has launched a health and wellness podcast titled the “PAWdcast” hosted by the Peer Ambassadors of Wellness (PAW) volunteers with the intention of bringing students helpful resources and advice from the comfort of their own homes.
The members of PAW are in charge of promoting health and wellness on campus by hosting activities and presentations focused on a variety of topics, including stress, anxiety, depression, nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, food security and basic needs.
PAW volunteers also serve as mentors to individuals with mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety through the “Work it Out!” program.
Melissa Norris, a health educator at the SHC, is the adviser for PAW.
Norris produces all of the episodes and takes pride in knowing that students can listen to “PAWdcast” anytime, anywhere.
“Our goal is for students to listen and be inspired to reach out and get connected to an additional resource,” Norris said. “We always make sure that every episode we produce links to a resource on campus.”
“PAWdcast” aims to deliver health and wellness topics to get the conversations going across campus during these changing times.
With over 15 episodes already produced, some of the recent topics that have been covered by the podcast include academic stress, nutrition, self-care, virtual learning, sexual health, hunger and homelessness.
Fresno State senior Abby Mathews recently started listening to the podcast on her way to work in the morning.
“I heard about the podcast through the health center’s Instagram and thought it would be cool to listen to when I had some extra time,” Mathews said.
“The first episode I listened to was a few months ago on virtual learning and how to get the most out of doing school online, especially since it’s my senior year.”
The most recent episode on “PAWdcast” pertained to sexual health. Guest speaker Marissa Corpus, from Fresno Barrios Unidos, discussed topics like sex, consent and available resources.
Co-hosts of the sexual health episode were (PAWs) Destiny Buford-Ayala and Jackie Garcia Luis.
PAW volunteers brainstorm topics weekly and rate them on a scale of 1-5 based on which topics they want to produce an episode for.
Based on this, Norris narrows their ideas down to a single topic and invites a professional guest speaker affiliated with Fresno State to premiere on their podcast.
PAW volunteers want students within the community to establish a connection between themselves and each guest speaker, Norris said.
“Our Peer Ambassadors of Wellness are representing student’s voice,” Norris said. “They share a lot of their personal experiences as well in the episodes.”
Fresno State senior Sommer Hijazi is a member of PAW and weighs in on the impact that “PAWdcast” has had on her throughout the past few semesters.
“I think if I hadn’t done PAW, I probably wouldn’t have been able to actively foster relationships and be inspired at Fresno State,” Hijazi said.
“It has made me more of a mindful person to those around me. I would recommend it to anybody.”
There are currently 14 members a part of the PAW program, but for those interested in joining the group applications will be available this semester for the fall 2021 school year.
Weekly “PAWdcast”episodes can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music, Listen Notes, Breaker and Google podcasts.