This week, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Campus Recreation kicked off its Wellness Wheel Project.
“The Wellness Wheel Project is a series of events our Campus Recreation staff has chosen to develop and/or participate in together this semester,” said Erica Hildenbrand, the assistant chief of staff of Campus Recreation. “It is a way to create more shared experiences while we dedicate time to activities and events that promote one of each of the eight wellness wheel spokes: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, financial, occupational and spiritual.”
On Monday, January 27, the program hosted a Wellness Walk with Penn basketball head coaches Mike McLaughlin and Steve Donahue as the hosts, traveling from College Green to the historic Palestra arena on campus. “The Wellness Walk was awesome. We had the highest turnout for a Wellness Walk so far, and everyone loved seeing the Palestra up close and personal,” said Hildenbrand.
Up next, Hildenbrand said they plan to host a pep rally before a home men’s basketball game in February. There will also be a budget planning session with a financial analyst and the club sport captains. Another planned event is a free Workplace Wellness Workshop, in partnership with Human Resources. It will focus on stretches and exercises one can do in the office.
But the event Hildenbrand is most excited for is the Campus Cup Series. “Each month we will host a social tournament where staff and faculty can create teams to compete against each other in dodgeball, quizzo and cornhole,” she explained. “The three events lead up to the Penn Relays Campus Cup, a fun and social evening filled with team relay events that happens the week before the Penn Relays.”
One of the biggest pieces to the Wellness Wheel Project is the strengthening of campus partnerships. Hildenbrand said with a small professional Campus Recreation staff, looking to other departments for their expertise is critical. There are hopes it will build relational trust, psychological safety and respect for one another.
All in all, that was Hildenbrand’s biggest piece of advice when it comes to launching a similar project like Penn’s Wellness Wheel. “So much of my time is spent meeting with different groups on campus to learn what they’re already doing to promote wellness and see if we can either partner — why reinvent a process if it’s already working — or get creative to add more value to their current programming,” she said. “Inviting people to come work out with us and attend games and other Athletics events is also important to building relationships that will last.”