Wellness challenges started by SAU’s counseling center have become a weekly event, with around 200 students already participating. After the chaotic beginning of online classes, some students are using this initiative as a way to express themselves during the quarantine.
Tiffany Bartell, a full-time counselor and outreach coordinator for the counseling center, is one of the people in charge of the wellness initiative.
“After the students received word that they were going to have to leave campus, Pastor Anna (campus chaplain) reached out to me and said, ‘What can we do for the students and how can we support them from a distance?’” Bartell said. “And right about the same time, Kari Shultz (director of student life and activities) reached out to me too and said essentially the same thing.”
With a few other people, they got together and discussed the needs of the students, listing all the issues the students would be dealing with.
“We definitely had challenges,” she said, referencing the initiative. “It’s a different thing to coordinate interdepartmentally when you’re not even together.”
Another difficulty was the fact that their social media page had barely been used.
“We hadn’t really promoted it at all or anything, it was something I wanted for next school year,” Bartell said.
After someone suggested they use it anyways, it turned out to be a “God thing” as Bartell described it. When asked about the goal of the initiative, she said it was, “To increase student’s ability to cope with an unprecedented situation.”
Joi McClellan, a graduating senior with a major in music and a pre-dental track, was one of those who won on the first week of the challenges. Having heard of the challenge, she thought it would be fun and decided to participate.
Then, while studying hard for a lab exam, she got the news that she had won.
“I was pretty exultant. I think I yelled and screamed to my family (about winning) because my sister has been annoyed with me all week for posting challenges and telling me to quit it,” McClellan said. “When I told them, I was quite happy. And I was like, ‘Hey, it was worth it.’”
While Joi participated, she notes that the amount of those who were participating seemed to slow down as the challenges continued. Despite that, she thinks it made a difference.
“It still helped me feel connected that Southern cared about students everywhere, I wouldn’t say that the activities in themselves were particularly helpful just because they were already part of my routine. But I think just the idea that ‘You know, we’re also connected,’ I think it’s cool that Southern’s doing this.”