Happiness Challenge Expands To New Campuses

The Happiness Project, a Harvard wellness group, has partnered with student organizations at MIT, Wellesley, Yale, and the University of California, Los Angeles, to expand the student health initiative The Happiness Challenge to the four college campuses this spring.

The annual Happiness Challenge, which lasts eight weeks, aims to boost student happiness by issuing weekly tasks related to healthy habits. Participants can win prizes for successful completion of each task.

Cindy W. Shih '15, an inactive Crimson news editor and co-chair of the Happiness Project, said that student organizers at the four schools will alter the standard Challenge framework to suit the needs of their respective campuses.

“We wanted to have that personal community feel,” she said. “By asking these clubs to work with us, they get to make it their own and personalize it.”

According to Shih, changes might include different schedules, prizes, and campus events held in conjunction with the Challenge at each school.

Despite these individual changes, Sheena Nie, an MIT sophomore and organizer of the MIT Happiness Challenge, said that close collaboration between participating schools has helped foster the success of the Project on the MIT campus so far.

“From an organizational perspective, I get a lot out of working with the schools—we share resources, feedback,” she said.

According to Nie and Shih, organizers are even planning a joint study break for both Harvard and MIT participants later this semester.

Nie added that she doubted that the MIT effort would have been able to manage the large number of students that it has attracted during its first year without guidance and help from other schools.

Over 1200 students are currently signed up for the MIT Happiness Challenge, the largest number of participants at any of the universities.

Nie also said she thinks participants are, in part, reaping benefits from the Challenge because it has brought student organizations from multiple campuses together to tackle student stress.

“Collaborating across the schools teaches students that it’s not just an issue at MIT—it’s across all the American universities,” she said. “From the participants’ perspective, they see that it’s a huge issue that other students at other schools are organizing around.”

Shih noted that the challenge is likely to expand to more campuses soon. Several colleges have already reached out to her to express a desire to bring the challenge to their schools since the challenge started two weeks ago at Harvard, Yale, and MIT.

“Being able to extend…to other places is a good thing for any organization,” said Maria T. Lai '17, a participant in the Happiness Project at Harvard. “The more people they can reach, the better. If you can help students in other schools, that’s good.”

—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at quynhnhule@thecrimson.com.

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