Recently, Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) hosted its seventh annual Kick Axe Wellness Challenge.
The five-week challenge focuses on SFA’s seven dimensions of wellness. “It is designed to promote a healthier lifestyle for the entire SFA campus, faculty and staff members, and students,” said Jessica Waguespack, the assistant director of Campus Recreation Employee Wellness at SFA.
The challenge started in 2013 when SFA Campus Recreation took over the Employee Wellness program. Waguespack explained when she was hired, there was a desire to build a more robust program. Inspired by other universities’ programs, the Kick Axe Wellness Challenge was born.
“For the first three years, the Challenge was offered to faculty and staff members, with my goal to expand it to the entire campus community,” said Waguespack. “Since then, we’ve collaborated with various academic classes to incorporate the Challenge into their course. Teams are also encouraged to get their student workers involved.”
EXTRA CREDIT: From programming for students and staff to spaces and visual design, three campus recreation professionals share how they are providing the best wellness options for their campus communities.
Participants form teams of four. Across the five-weeks, they track their progress on about 40 daily and weekly tasks. They range from easy to hard, and the number of points allotted to each is determined by difficulty level:
At the end of the challenge, the top three teams win. However, each participant who completes the five weeks will also earn a prize.
For the 2021 Kick Axe Challenge, Waguespack said their greatest obstacle was figuring out how to offer it to participants who are working on campus, telecommuting full time or fluctuating between both. One team this year was made entirely of telecommuters.
They also had to think outside the box with social distancing considerations. “With one of our dimensions being socio-cultural, we had to be a bit creative,” said Waguespack. “We now offer a virtual museum tour and teams can meet socially via Zoom or FaceTime to name a few added options. This has been so successful; we will continue this option once the global pandemic goes away. Despite the need to socially distance, I’ve kept participants in teams so they can continue to provide motivation and encouragement to one another.”
Over the years, Waguespack has learned a couple of ways to increase program engagement:
Waguspack noted several:
If you are looking to create a similar program at your university, Waguespack gave several final tips:
Images courtesy of Stephen F. Austin State University