James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.


Please Don’t Steal: A Closer Look at Potty Mouth

By Vilina Phan
Posted: March 31, 2011

PHOTO: JMU students collaborate Students read out loud their blurb and receive comments and feedback from their peers and the graduate assistant, Smith. 940,000… The average number of germs living on a cell phone. It takes 10 students, hours of hard work, and a passion for wellness to produce the bi-monthly neon colored newsletter known as Potty Mouth. It promotes healthy living by educating students where they least expect it: in the bathroom.  Informing, educating, and displayed for all to see- Potty Mouth is produced by HTH 389, a two credit course that has impacted students all over campus.

Sponsored by The University Health Center’s Student Wellness & Outreach (SWO), Potty Mouth covers the six dimensions of wellness: intellectual, spiritual, physical, occupational, social, and emotional. Each issue offers a spread of the six dimensions, trying not to just zero in on one and by doing so, educating students about the importance of health and wellness and hopefully encourage students to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Potty Mouth promotes healthy living through a creative approach, but do you ever wonder what happens behind the scene? Potty Mouth is not an extracurricular activity or a job but instead is a highly selective and detailed two credit class that meets every Monday at Moody Hall. 

 “Studies show that people retain information better when they see something in a short blurb multiple times then if they read one long story,” said Jessie Hendrick, Potty Mouth staffer. Potty Mouth is beneficial because each writer is only allotted 60 words per entry, which keeps stories short, concise and straight to the point.

The application process requires students to answer six short answer questions, including a sample 60 words or less Potty Mouth blub that has at least one legitimate health source.
 “I remember writing mine about the vending machine munchies…typically though we have to have three health sources to support each of our blurbs,” said Hendrick.

After formally being accepted into the class, each student chooses a job within the publication, based on preferences listed in class. The different positions include the CEO, layout, proofreader, distribution, assessment, and online publisher.

The CEO is the head of the class and works directly under Ashley Smith, the graduate assistant. The current CEO is Jordan Lawson, who is also a health science major. According to Lawson, “it has been beneficial to be able to explore all the dimensions of health. It has helped broaden my perception of what health is.”

The layout position constructs the designs, creating what the reader sees. The proof reader reviews everything before publication, including online articles. The distributors are in charge of organizing distribution, assessments are in charge of scoping out topics of interest, and online publisher updates the website.  Each position requires two students, except CEO and online publisher, with the graduate assistant, Smith, in charge of overseeing the whole operation.

“I’ve overseen Potty Mouth for two years, I am currently attending graduate school and applied for the graduate assistantship which is like applying for a job ,” said Smith. 

Selecting applicants is up to the discretion of Smith. Upon submission, she reads over each application and chooses the best, based on enthusiasm and creativity. She looks for applicants who genuinely enjoy writing, despite their major, and someone that is thorough and exudes excitement. Potty Mouth is not exclusive to health science majors because anyone can benefit from the class, and the diversity promotes synergy.

But it doesn’t hurt to be a Health Science major as Erica Orange, Potty Mouth staffer can attest because “in brainstorming health topics, I think it’s more obvious to us what needs to be covered.” Working on Potty Mouth has allowed students like Orange to view health topics in a different light. “It allows me to further explore health topics that I’m interested in that I don’t get to really learn about in class, like spirituality,” said Orange. Fellow health science major, Mary Figgatt likes to “focus on what I’ve learned and try to see it in a different way.”

PHOTO: JMU students in classLawson, Figgatt, and Doss teach the class their version of "The Potty Dance," for the team building exercise led by Hendrick. This activity helped stimulate creativity and liveliness within the classroom.During class team builder games are played to help everyone bond because it is imperative everyone knows and is comfortable with each other. A typical team building game would be to create an official “Potty Dance” for the class. This was done last Monday, led by Hendrick. She first showed YouTube clips of sample “Potty Dances” sponsored by Huggies Diapers and then proceeded to break the class up into three groups to create their own dance to perform in front of the class. This led to a very lively class and a contagious atmosphere where “everyone just feeds off of each other, and its great energy,” said Smith.

 “[the best thing about Potty Mouth] is receiving emails that say we did a good job, saying someone changed their lifestyle because of what the students wrote, that it really became beneficial to their lives,” Said Smith.

“I’m interested in health, it’s been my major for four years, it just makes sense and I enjoy it,” said Potty Mouth staffer, Kayla Doss.

Not just in the bathroom stalls, Potty Mouth also has a website that includes a full length version of the blurbs, sources and all. Potty Mouth encourages healthy livingby presenting health issues in a fun and creative manner.