For University of Wyoming (UW) Campus Recreation, bettering the holistic wellness of students and campus members is a major point of emphasis. That’s why Jennifer Knerr, the assistant director of Wellness, said all strategies and programs in Campus Rec are evidence-based and connect with the school’s wellness wheel.
“We understand wellness is different for everyone, and we want to provide something for each person,” said Knerr. “The wheel we use consists of eight dimensions including emotional, occupational, intellectual, environmental, financial, spiritual, physical and social wellness. All the dimensions of holistic wellness are important, although some may be more prominent at different times during an individual’s life.”
Specifically, Knerr said mental health is always at the top of the list for college students and even more so as society continues to emerge out of the pandemic. She said recognizing what impacts mental health is especially important and being able to provide resources for those influential things such as sleep, nutrition, drug/alcohol use, self-care strategies, stress management, etc. is something they strive for at UW.
For other campus rec departments hoping to expand their holistic wellness offerings, Knerr provided these crucial tips:
- Keep the wellness wheel at the center of your programming. The overall well-being of students is affected by so many different aspects.
- Use evidence-based programming. This ensures your objectives are being met.
- Collaboration. Working with campus partners such as Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Student Government and Athletics helps to enhance events/programs and provides engagement with a broader student audience.
- Be a part of campus life. Provide wellness resources and interactions with students and staff at campus events.
- Practicality and Simplicity. Provide students with practical skills, information, and resources. Ease of implementation is important. Wellness doesn’t have to be complicated.
UW’s Holistic Wellness Programs
Knerr said UW’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center has a Zen Den for student use during open hours. The space provides a relaxing atmosphere, bean bags, coloring pages, books, foot massagers and brain games.
“We also have massage chairs and a Relax Space providing wellness breaks for student use throughout the day,” said Knerr. “Our programs include meditation and mindfulness workshops, body composition testing, dog and cat de-stressor events, mental well-being resources, sleep workshops, free fruit each Friday of the semester, spin your own smoothie on our Smoothie Bike, substance prevention education, as well as outreach events to classes and student organizations on campus.”
Knerr said her department collaborates with Student Government, the UW Student Health Center and UW Libraries each semester for special events. Also, they provide athletic training services for students and onsite medical coverage for high-risk club sport competitions.
“We have a full-time athletic trainer (AT) on staff who is nationally certified and state licensed,” said Knerr. “They work in conjunction with a sports medicine physician at UW’s Student Health Service to provide primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions for our students.”
The AT also provides concussion baseline testing, management following a concussive injury, immediate care, and a return-to-learn-plan with the support of the Dean of Students Office and Disability Support Services.
Unique Rec Center Features
Knerr said some of the newest features in the AT Facility includes a CryoLounge and a Relaxation Room. “The CryoLounge offers hot and cold therapy as well as compression to promote recovery following an injury or a workout,” she said. “The CryoLounge is an excellent way to provide an experience like a cold tub without the inconvenience of getting wet and needing to change clothes. It also allows for parts of the body to be heated to provide a more comfortable experience.”
The Relaxation Room includes a RelaxSpace Wellness Pod, allowing students to get comfortable and have a 15-minute rejuvenating break. The RelaxSpace offers a fully immersive, multi-sensory experience. Users can choose from a variety of programs including guided meditation, guided breathing, or viewing nature scenes or scenes from cities around the world. They can also access personal growth resources like improving nutrition and sleep to relationship building.
Knerr said UW has been awarded the Campus Prevention Network (CPN) Seal of Prevention three years in a row. This award recognizes higher education institutions using comprehensive, evidence-based practices around online prevention education. Incoming students are required to take multiple online courses before arriving to campus based on substance prevention, sexual assault prevention and mental well-being.
Additionally, she said there are many UW campus initiatives such as Healthy Poke Patrol which utilize peer educators and motivational interviewing at home football games to encourage safe and responsible alcohol consumption.
“We are also fortunate to have the ability to provide Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings to our university community,” said Knerr. “MHFA is an evidence-based curriculum that teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. We are able to provide two trainings each month and currently have six instructors for this course.”
Moving forward, Knerr said UW Campus Recreation is looking to advance and be innovative with its offerings for students. “We will continue to partner with student groups and departments to bring wellness to a wider audience on campus, and we will continue to reach out and take our programs to new spaces and groups,” she said “Wellness needs are always evolving and we will continue to focus on meeting the wellness needs of UW students.”
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