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Thursday, January 15, 2004, Peterborough

Spreading the Word on Wellness at Trent

An array of program and services advance the health and wellness of students

At a time of year when New Year's resolutions related to health and wellness are often defeated soon after they are devised, those who work to keep Trent University students well, suggest a proactive approach.

Under the umbrella of Student Affairs at the University, come a number of programs and services that advance the health and wellness of its students, including Health Services, Residence Life, the Counselling Centre, Athletics and Recreation, and the Disability (Special Needs) Services Office. With an emphasis on self-awareness and self-care, these services address emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual wellness.

"Programming at Trent is extensive and varied and all of it is about wellness," says Meri Kim Oliver, senior director, Student Affairs and Community Partnerships. "Wellness is consciousness. No one is well if they are not living consciously and, in Western culture it is easy to lose touch with ourselves, each other, and the earth.

"When anyone - the health educator, student leaders, faculty or staff - provide programs, they also provide opportunities for campus members to pause, to be conscious, and to live life more consciously. They promote wellness."

And in general, students are interested in taking care of themselves, says Stewart Engelberg, co-ordinator of Trent's Counselling Centre. He adds that today, there is a greater understanding among students, and society in general, that all aspects of the "self" need to be satisfied.

"The majority of students are committed to a Trent experience that involves more than getting their letters; there are greater investments."

Those investments, he explains, are the things that keep students well, such as involvement in the community - on campus and otherwise - and the building of relationships and a strong support system.

But it's all about balance, which can be difficult for students to achieve and maintain due to the diverse nature of university life. That's where being proactive and aware of one's self becomes crucial.

"We proactively promote health and wellness; we don't necessarily wait for people to come to us in crisis, but give people the skills and the knowledge to help them take care of themselves," he says.

"Stress, sadness, frustration; when you feel them, you can start addressing them with positive strategies, if you are tuned into your needs."

The Counselling Centre on campus offers information and coping skills workshops on dealing with depression, and understanding stress and anxiety, so that students can take charge of taking care of themselves. Mr. Engelberg notes that reaching out to students and the promotion of self-care is inherent in the emphasis on wellness.

Janet Schmidt, Trent's health educator, has spent the first term doing just that. Focusing on issues of importance to students - responsible drinking, nutrition, and stress, among them, she has set out to do two things. Firstly, she strives to teach students "what is healthy" and to provide them with key facts and figures. Secondly, she hopes to encourage students to take responsibility for their own health.

"It's an important time to promote wellness. In the students, we've got long-term lives coming along here," she says. "We want to have the information available to people when they decide to make changes and students are making more decisions on their own than they have before."

Ms. Schmidt has been focusing on issues such as AIDS, the importance of sleep, violence against women, influenza and handwashing and will this term, put the emphasis on chlamydia and safer sex, laughter as a stress reliever and immune system booster, and nutrition.

Through newsletters, interactive displays, e-mails and a network of students, staff and faculty members, she is working to spread the word about wellness.

"Wellness is many things; being disease free, having a strong immune system and being emotionally and physically healthy," she says. "If we are well, we will be able to do everything to the best of our ability."


For further information, please contact:

Stewart Engelberg, co-ordinator, Counselling Centre, 748-1011, Ext. 1384

Janet Schmidt, health educator, 748-1011, Ext. 5287

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Last Updated January 16, 2004