Incorporating Wellness Within Campus Recreation


According the Michael Edwards, the director of Campus Recreation, the mission of Georgia Tech Campus Recreation is to promote healthy lifestyles and lifelong learning. This extends beyond physical fitness. It also includes emotional and mental wellbeing. Therefore, it seemed like a natural extension of Campus Recreation be to a part of the Center of Community Health and Wellbeing that was recently developed a Georgia Tech.

The Center of Community of Health and Wellbeing brings together Campus Recreation, Stamps Health Services and Health Promotion as a multi-faceted initiative for health and well-being at the university. “When you think of campus recreation you might just think of physical wellness, but part of our vision of health and wellbeing is really this harmony of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and professional wellbeing,” said Dr. Suzy Harrington, who will serve as the executive director the Center of Community Health and Wellbeing.

Dr. Harrington joined the Georgia Tech team last December and will officially launch the Center of Community Health and Wellbeing this fall. But incorporating wellness initiatives into Campus Recreation is not a new idea. “We are not creating new wellness programs,” said Caroline Dotts, the associate director of healthy lifestyles programs. “We have the programs, so we are just working on consolidating them and cross marketing them, from all around campus and really trying to work together. We are educating our community on the different dimensions of wellness so they realize when they take a yoga class, it is more than just physical activity, it is also connecting emotionally and socially.”

The mission of the Center of Community Health and Wellbeing mimics that of Campus Recreation, the help members of the Georgia Tech community live happy, healthy lives. “The mission for the Center of Community Health and Wellbeing is to help our students and employees nourish this environment of health, wellbeing and caring so that they can flourish and be fulfilled,” said Harrington. “If you have healthy employees that are happy and content, then that is going to drive students to be stronger. If you have students that are smart and happy then they are going to go on and become community members and leaders and really drive our future.”

The team at Georgia Tech believes that this integrated wellness approach is not a trend, but the future of how well being is managed on all campuses. “Those that are able to collaborate and work across campus are going to be able to provide a holistic approach to their entire campus instead of trying to have a siloed approach where the rec center will do physical programs and health promotions does something else,” added Dotts. “If you can’t work together you are not going to create that culture of wellbeing.”

Edwards encourages all Campus Recreation professionals to get on board with this path of addressing wellness on campus. “My advice is to embrace it 100 percent,” he said. “Give it the opportunity for the integration of resources, greater collaboration, greater visibility, greater communication because that is going to benefit everyone on campus as a whole. I think it is a great opportunity for recreation to move forward in this initiative that is taking place across the country.”

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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