New Campus Well-Being unit to expand pandemic supports

By: Danielle Moreau

Before students at Red River College Polytechnic entered a third year of online learning, the College announced their investment in a holistic approach to its learners’ health through its new Campus Well-Being unit. 

The initiative, announced in January, aims to heal and strengthen mental and physical health and mend interpersonal relationships lost through virtual learning.

Funds for the unit were previously used to run the College’s varsity sports program, which was cut due to safety concerns and capacity limitations. 

Breanna Sawatzky, acting manager of campus well-being, explained the pushing factors behind the transition, which include inclusivity and accessibility for all students. 

“One thing we’re really focusing on is, whether it’s cultural diversity or any other forms of diversity within students, considering how we can truly listen to those voices and try to provide opportunities that fit for them,” Sawatzky said. 

The new resource will include an array of options, including workout classes, therapy dogs, intramural sports, art classes, and on-campus massage therapy. 

Students can expect activities to be available for the fall 2022 term.

“What I anticipate is that we’ll have a really robust program and resource offering for September, but that we will continue to have pilot projects and continue to test resources out over time,” Sawatzky said.

A student reads about the return of therapy dogs to campus during a break from remote learning./DANIELLE MOREAU

Despite the unforeseeable future of the pandemic, the Campus Well-Being unit will be fluid in its delivery, offering virtual and in-person options, depending on public health orders. 

The College is extending this initiative to include all regional campuses, the Language Learning Centre, and Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. 

“Every campus really has unique facilities and student populations, right? So, we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach,” Sawatzky said. 

Kaylee Fyke, a Business Administration student at RRC Polytech, said she believes the College already offered students sufficient opportunities to play sports but thinks the new plan will capture more people’s interest.

“I think the changes they are making will draw in a new crowd of students,” she said.

The College hopes for the unit to improve students’ experience and increase engagement within Student Services. The first step is informing students about their new options.

“Honestly, due to the lack of on-campus experience, I feel as though I am a bit disconnected. I didn’t even know about all of the resources we students have available,” Fyke said. 

Students are encouraged to keep their eyes on their College email over the coming weeks for a survey link regarding the new Campus Well-Being unit.