It’s important that recreation departments prove their value by displaying how their goals and outcomes align with the academic missions of their universities.
In August 2017, I collaborated with Loren Kleinman,the director of Drew University’s Writing Center, and Jill Cermele, a professor and director of our First Year Experience on a Yoga and Writing Workshop for our first-year students. We met and decided to design the program for first year seminar students since our seminars are writing intensive. I then reached out to my network of yoga instructors that we bring on campus for our weekly fitness classes to see who would be the best fit.
Students set up yoga mats next to their notebooks or laptops, and as they felt inspired to write, they could take a break from their yoga and start writing. Yoga is a great way to de-stress and de-clutter your mind, which can be hugely beneficial to writers – not to mention it is a great way to improve a student’s individual fitness. This program perfectly aligned with Drew University’s mission of a “lifelong cultivation of the whole person.” Senior Amanda Farbanish who attended the event said, “[The event] was cool. I have been trying to be healthier just because classes and work are a lot right now, so it was cool to be able to combine writing with something else that I love.”
The intention of the event was to spark student creativity or to help them overcome writer’s block. We encouraged students to write whatever came to mind, but there was also a PowerPoint of prompts that ran on a screen throughout the session to motivate students who needed an extra push. The prompts included:
- “What did you learn from your biggest mistake?”
- “Make a list of 10 things that make you smile.”
- “I really wish others knew this about me.”
We provided fruit, tea and drinks to help students relax.
“I wanted to allow students to have some amount of retreat from doing really formal workshops where they have to be there and constantly thinking,” said Loren. “I liked the idea of having something where [students] can come and practice yoga, breathing and meditation. In the mix of that they can work on their writing.”
An event similar to ours could be organized by any recreation department to demonstrate how it can partner with the academic missions of our institutions.