The next generation of engineers, architects, chemists and so many more are being molded right in our back yard.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute is helping young professionals build a foundation for success, but what good is that foundation if students are crumbling under pressures outside the classroom?
That’s where the institute’s new Center for Well-Being takes center stage.
It’s an initiative that promises to deliver 360 degree support for the campus community.
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The repurposed building is home to a sprawling lounge-like space with a virtually endless list of class and group offerings, including:
- Healthy eating classes for conscious budgets with a focus on shopping and nutritional cooking.
- Zentangle: Art Support Classes
- A rest and recovery room where students can engage with restorative content like yoga/meditation courses.
- Zero gravity chair
- Red light therapy
- Sand Therapy
- Compression Boots
- Open space with seating for students meet, connect or have programming
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It’s a multifunctional, one-stop hub, located in the same building as the Student Health Services and Student Development and Counseling Center and part of a $10 million dollar “commitment by the university to position significant health and well being services next to the campus quad and in an area well raveled by students heading to the dining hall.”
“This is really a place to just take a breath and pause,” said Paula Fitzpatrick, the Center’s Director.
Fitzpatrick, a former college dean and professor of psychology, brings years of experience also as a certified teacher in mindfulness meditation.
Together, Fitzpatrick and Charlie Morse, the Dean of Student Wellness, answered a campus-wide call for more leisure space.
However, they took it a step further, ensuring the Center fulfilled a years-long vision from several stakeholders to centralize support services that emphasized the importance of the connection between physical and mental health along with overall well-being.
“We set up a mental health and well-being task force and implementation teams,” said Morse, explaining a detailed effort from students, faculty and staff to take a close look at the stressors on campus and how the institute could address them with priority.
Komlavi Touglo, a Junior studying Biology and Biotechnology expressed gratitude for the addition, adding that it was needed after WPI experienced a grief-stricken slew of months in 2022.
“I’ve been here for many, many years and it was the most difficult, challenging and traumatic year we’ve ever had here, with multiple losses due to suicide,” said Morse.
The Center for Well-Being is also one part of a larger initiative to make holistic health an integral part of academia, rather than an afterthought.
WPI has adopted Wellness Days which are held throughout the academic year to give the entire campus community time to pause with no classes, assignments or deadlines.