VIKING VICTORY:  Ready. Set. Go!

Peer Wellness Ambassadors Leading the Race against Mental Health
In spring 2020, The University of North Carolina System office Division of Student Affairs invited proposals from universities to strengthen existing behavioral health resources and/or to implement new initiatives designed to innovatively serve the behavioral health needs of UNC System students.  Nurturing student well-being through effective programming can increase retention rates and improve academic performance. Research also suggests that the association between mental health issues and student retention has ramifications on the economic well-being of students and institutions alike. Investments in the mental health needs of students translates into higher retention rates and increased revenue for institutions. 
This analysis is further supported by findings from the 2018 Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) survey where 65.8% of students affirmed that utilizing counseling services had a positive impact on their academic performance.
In response to the grant initiative, Elizabeth City State University’s Division of Student Affairs submitted a proposal and was awarded $25,000 to strengthen our existing behavioral health resources through the implementation of Viking VictoryReady. Set. Go! Peer Wellness Ambassadors Leading the Race against Mental Health with a priority focus on Training and Professional Development. 
This is an innovative and holistic approach of being responsive and proactive to addressing mental health on our campus, while increasing retention rates for the next generation of leaders.  The priorities are directly aligned with the UNC’s Strategic Plan of providing access to low wealth populations, affordability and efficiency, student success, economic impact and community engagement, and equity and inclusion.  Through program initiatives, campaigns, assessment, training and professional development to raise awareness about and increase the knowledge of mental health on campus, these efforts will aid ECSU in supporting the UNC’s Strategic Plan. 
The mission of the Viking Victory Peer Wellness Ambassador program is to empower students with
the knowledge, skills, and resources to make holistic health decisions. 
Peer Wellness Ambassadors along with the Viking Victory project team and partners, will educate the ECSU community about health and wellness topics while improving holistic health outcomes for college students.
Compassion – Be genuinely concerned about the other person or people’s needs
Commitment - Believe in supporting others with meaningful and ongoing opportunities for impact, growth, and development
Impact - Hold ourselves to meaningful and measurable outcomes, evaluate our successes and challenges openly, and act on what we learn
Communication – Rely on direct and honest exchange for all that we do to effectively articulate our vision and goals, form strong relationships, work through challenges and learn from and with peers and partners
Health & Wellness Equity - Believe in a space where every person has full access and every opportunity to a learning, developing and modeling a healthy, happy life.