Be Well

Assuring healthy, safe, and sustainable physical environments that promote walking and bicycling, physical activity, and clean air for all of UCLA.


More About Be Well

We collaborate with campus and community leaders to identify, plan, and implement best practices for active and safe transit (especially walking and bicycling), facilitation of physical activity in everyday activities, clean and green campus spaces, and building campus awareness about the built environment.

Be Well Leadership

Dr. Richard J. Jackson, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Richard Jackson's passions are health, nature, architecture, creating visions, and protecting children. He has worked extensively on chemical hazards, building public health strategy, leadership, and he strongly focuses on how the ‘built environment’ affects health. He has served as the Director of the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, California's top state health officer, on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and is an elected Honorary AIA. He is professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with appointments in Pediatrics, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and Urban Planning. He has received the John Heinz environment award for his work, and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. 

Renee Fortier M.A./M.S., Co-Chair

Renée Fortier (B.A. Rice University; M.A./M.S. UCLA), Executive Director UCLA Events & Transportation, oversees both a comprehensive transportation program and the campus Events Office, and is co-chair of the Built Environment (BE Well) pod of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. With a daily population of 70,000, UCLA reduces traffic, and improves air quality and quality of life for the UCLA campus and the community at large through an extensive sustainable transportation program, including public transit passes, bicycle programs, carpools, vanpools, shuttles, and a campus fleet which is 50% alternative fueled. UCLA’s transportation programs have garnered awards from the Air Quality Management District, Association for Commuter Transportation and L.A. Metro, as well as the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), and have received a “Best Workplace for Commuters” - Gold designation and a “Bike Friendly University” – Silver designation.

Jimmy Tran, BE Well Graduate Student Researcher

Jimmy is a third year graduate student completing his dual master degrees in Environmental Health Sciences and Urban and Regional Planning. His interests are in understanding how we can change our social and physical environments to make healthy options such as walking and biking the preferred option. As the BE Well Pod graduate researcher, Jimmy aims to bring together the creative passions of students, faculty, and staff can influence policy to make UCLA’s campus healthier and safe, and sustainable.

Have a question, concern, or an idea? We would like to hear about it!

Be Well at: 

Wed, Nov 9, 2016 AT 8:11 am

By Miso Kwak

Whether you are walking to class, going to the gym, or getting groceries, the sidewalk may be something you take for granted. Many of the different parts that make up our daily built-environment go unnoticed. For some people, however, the built-environment can be a significantly limiting factor that literally “disables” them.

In the fall quarter of my sophomore year, I took Disability Studies 101: Perspectives on Disability Studies. It was an introductory course to Disability Studies exposing students to different perspectives that frame people’s understandings of disability. One of the angles the class used in discussing disability was social and policy perspectives, which covered a wide range of topics including aging with disability, chronic illness, and the built-environment. I still vividly remember one of articles I read for the class that discussed how the built-environment affects persons with a disability almost two years later. The author, Christopher Baswell, was a visiting professor from the University of York who uses a wheelchair. Baswell’s main point in the article was how certain buildings in his university make him “crippled” more than other buildings do. For example, in the British Library, he was “able-bodied” because he could “move about as easily as other library users.” In Bodleian Library of the Oxford University however, he was “crippled, reduced to begging for help on the pavement outside.” Although it is not explicitly mentioned in the article, we can infer that the British Library was build such that wheelchair users can navigate the library independently, whereas the Bodleian Library lacked facilities such as ramps and elevators that would enable wheelchair users to move around easily. In sum, the article was a clear example of how our environment constructs how we experience disability.

As a blind student, I could relate to Baswell on a personal level, and I could immediately think of a number of areas on UCLA campus that “disable” mobility for people with different physical challenges. One such area was a sidewalk in front of Schoenberg Music Building near the Inverted Fountain. As shown in the picture below, the sidewalk was narrow and bumpy because of tree roots that were sticking out of the ground.

Before construction; Photo via Sanna Alas

As I write this post, however, I am happy and grateful to say that this area is no longer “disabling.” A construction project took place at the end of the 2016 winter quarter, making this part of the sidewalk safe and accessible. Every time I walk by this place, I feel hopeful because it is a proof that UCLA is taking the right steps toward making the campus welcoming and accessible to everyone.

After construction; Photo via Ana Bonilla

One of projects in progress for the BE-Well pod this academic year is Sidewalk Campaign. Through this project, the BE-Well pod hopes to address the importance of having safe and accessible sidewalks on and around the campus. A study has shown that having a well-maintained walking surface was the main functional factor that is associated with people getting out and walking. Addressing the issue of accessibility and safety of sidewalks on and around the campus will not only make our built-environment “non-disabling,” but also encourage the UCLA community to engage in walking more, thereby living healthier.

Can you think of any areas on and around campus where the quality of sidewalk could be improved? Share on social media or comment below if there’s an area on UCLA’s campus you’d like to see improved by the Sidewalk Campaign!

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.

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