Wellness Coalition promotes health in opening event

Photo by Dana Wehmann

The Wellness Coalition invited students to explore the intersection of physical and mental health in their opening event this past Wednesday, Meet the Wellness Coalition. The Ramapo College community was able to meet the faculty and staff who comprise the Coalition, and familiarize themselves with the importance of wellness.

“Our goal every year is to make students aware of how they should be taking care of themselves in all ways, not just physically by sleeping better, eating better, and exercise, but also what they can do for themselves emotionally,” explained Abbe Benowitz, the Coalition’s co-chair and counselor in the Office of Specialized Services.

The event drew a crowd to its two tables, one with make-your own trail mix and another with an interactive T-shirt screen printing station. The shirts slowly became emblazoned with the phrase, “Be well,” a message that the Coalition carries throughout their promotional materials and serves as a reminder to take time for one’s personal wellbeing.

The strength of the group, according to Benowitz, is that “it’s a collaborative effort just by its nature, because the staff that are on the Wellness Coalition represent different offices all over campus.” These include the Krame Center, the Center for Health and Counseling Services, the Center for Student Involvement, OSS, and many others. This allows students to learn about all the resources available on campus that may relate to wellness.

The Coalition promotes the eight dimensions of wellness, which colleges and organizations across the country use to delineate the many factors that contribute to an individual’s health. These are: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual wellness. “It’s very holistic, and covers all aspects of a student’s life,” Benowitz said.

The Coalition began several years ago as the Stigma Free Committee, aimed at breaking down the stigmas related to mental health, but eventually morphed to include much more. It recognizes the multitude of steps students can take for self-reflection and growth.

Within an hour of the event’s start, all the shirts and goodie bags had been distributed, the trail mix ingredients were depleted and students had learned a great deal about what wellness could mean for them this academic year.

There seemed to be a focus on the small steps that people can take throughout the day to focus on improving themselves, and that wellness can mean anything from a mindful snack to a visual reminder of wellness in a slogan.

Students are encouraged to reach out to the Coalition at wellnesscoalition@ramapo.edu if they have any ideas for events or co-sponsorships. Benowitz added, “We ask students to email us with any ideas they may have, and if there is an organization on campus that wants to collaborate, we’re always open to that.”

This event served largely as a preview of what is to come. Next Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Coalition will host its larger event of the semester, Wellness Wednesday, which will bring together different on and off-campus organizations in promoting wellness.