New program looks to keep Western ‘living well’

For Kevin Wamsley, there is only one key to ‘Living Well.’

“Success is simple,” said the Health Sciences associate dean. “We want to see a higher percentage of people who look forward to their day – every day.”

To do just that, the university recently launched Living Well @ Western, a campus-wide initiative designed to promote physical, cultural and intellectual activities to foster health and wellness among staff, faculty and students.

A year and a half in the making, the program grew out of a recent survey of faculty and staff, where 81 per cent of respondents said they were looking to be more physically active, and 59 per cent said they were looking for new approaches to stress management.

“We have known for some time that there is an issue with student stress; we have known for some time there are work-life balance issues for faculty and staff. Our study confirmed that,” Wamsley continued. “This attempts to confront those issues head on. This is about people having a healthy – and happy – place to work and study.”

Launched April 22, Living Well @ Western has developed a series of activities (many free) open to faculty, staff and students. Organized and run mainly by volunteers, the activities run the gamut from yoga and gardening, cooking and cycling, even music and comedy. The list of possibilities is almost as limitless as the ideas of participants, Wamsley said.

Living Well @ Western looks to harness the energy of the events on campus – existing and future – that promote wellness.

“This is a unique program because it not only incorporates physical activity, but focuses on many other aspects of wellness,” said Ann Hutchison, Western senior human resource advisor. “It is important to give people ideas and opportunities to get active or de-stress when they take a break from their work or from studying.”

In addition to the events that have been developed specifically for this initiative, numerous other groups have added their support to Western’s wellness movement and helped increase the roster of activities available to everyone on campus.

“The buy-in from all areas of campus has been tremendous. It has been a team effort and speaks to how our campus views wellness,” said Wamsley, who consulted nearly 50 stakeholders from across campus in the creation of Living Well @ Western.

He continued, “The list of activities is huge, and we hope it unfolds over the next five years. We want people to get out and enjoy themselves. All of these are little ways for people to take their blood-pressure down a notch. We want a happier, healthier Western.”

Visit health.uwo.ca/living_well/ for information, including activities schedules. Use the Contact Us button on the left side of the page to offer comments on or make suggestions for future activities.