Health program starts campaign
'This is Public Health' reaches out to thousands with stickers
While thousands of people roam the streets of Grand Rapids during the kick-off of ArtPrize, Grand
Valley State University students will be working to raise awareness for a different cause—public
On Sept. 18, students from GVSU will be stationed around Grand Rapids at 11 different locations,
including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the B.O.B. Their goal is to distribute 500
English and Spanish “This is Public Health” stickers that will promote their campaign.
“The goal is to help educate and spread awareness about what public health is and why it’s
important to the community,” said Ranelle Brew, chair of the public health department at GVSU.
“That’s what we’re going for; education and awareness.”
According to the World Health Organization, public health refers to all organized measures,
whether public or private, to prevent disease, promote health and prolong life among the
population as a whole. It involves a wide range of issues including motor-vehicle safety,
vaccinations, providing healthier food and safer work options.
“It will just be a brief interaction with the public,” Brew said. “It is something to get them thinking,
but not interrupting them from enjoying ArtPrize.”
The campaign is being brought to Grand Rapids by Brew, who is also an assistant professor at
GVSU, along with her students in the course PH 500, Introduction to Public Health. Rebecca
Kolodge, along with 36 other classmates, has been working on the campaign for the past three
“The launch of the new Master of Public Health program is definitely the major inspiration,”
Kolodge said. “Everyone is so excited to be a part of this program, and we want to share our
enthusiasm for public health with the community. Additionally, ArtPrize brings so much extra
energy to Grand Rapids, so we think it’s the perfect opportunity to engage with people and spread
The campaign, called “This is Public Health,” was first started in 2008 out of New York University
and Columbia University. Since then, more than 500,000 stickers have been distributed across the
“I think it’s important for the people in Grand Rapids to hear our message because there is so much
public health in our city,” Kolodge said. “We want the community to be aware of all that Grand
Rapids has to offer. Through this campaign, we hope to familiarize the community with what public
health is and get them thinking about how much it impacts their daily lives.”
People can place the removable stickers around the city on objects they believe represent public
health, such as drinking fountains, bicycle racks and seat belts. There will also be an Instagram
feed, #gvpublichealth, for pictures to be shared of the different spots people choose.