This week is UvA Health Week, a week during which the UvA pays extra attention to the health and well-being of students and employees. Students from the Central Student Council (CSR) and faculty councils are commemorating it by handing out a thousand flowers on UvA campuses today. “You matter; be proud of yourself.”
It's freezing cold and barely a few degrees above zero, yet CSR member and law student Tuncay Yazar (25) stands with other students handing out flowers on the Roeterseiland Campus (REC), across from the Law Hub. Attached to the flowers — including white roses —is a card with an encouraging message: “You matter; be proud of yourself.” In addition, there is a QR code that students can scan to get more information and help, including a link to UvA student psychologists.
Let's move together
The students handed out the flowers as part of the annual Health Week organized by the UvA this week, during which the university focuses attention on the health and well-being of students and employees. This year's theme is “Let's move together,” and activities such as singing and dancing together will be organized.
Yazar, the initiator of the flower action, wants to use this week to create more awareness of mental health. He sees that many students around him are in dire straits mentally. “We are coming out of the corona pandemic, which has had a big impact on students. Their environment and student life were drastically changed by the measures.
Yazar and other members of the student councils will hand out the flowers throughout the day “or until they run out. And if we all see trampled flowers on the campuses at the end of the day, we won't do it again next year. I hope it will be a success, and that we will be here again during Health Week next year,” he says. “Anyway, I love seeing how this small gesture —a flower and a note —can still mean a lot to some people and how it makes them happy,” he says with a smile.
The students receiving the flowers are content with this “pick-me-up.” This includes psychology and communication student Isabel Bangma (21) and cognition, and language and communication student Anna Sas (20). They received flowers when they took a study break to get coffee. The students hesitated at first to accept the flowers, “because then you walk around with a flower all day while studying. But such a gesture is always nice. It brings a moment of cheer and happiness to your day,” Bangma says.
For Yazar, the choice to specifically hand out flowers is very personal. He lost two girlfriends who did not win the battle with depression. “Then I handed out fake flowers to anyone who had anything to do with mental health, such as psychologists, family doctors and volunteers. That way I honored the caregivers. In addition, it is also in memory of my two girlfriends.”
Flowers are not only being handed out on the REC campus this week. Students are also giving them away today on the Science Park campus, at the P.C. Hoofthuis, and at the Amsterdam UMC. On Tuesday, they will also be distributed during a silent dance organized by the CSR on REC's De Brug.