Multipurpose wellness centers address range of health needs

| March 19, 2014

University wellness centers are getting a tri-fold makeover that aims to address student health from a holistic point of view, encompassing mind, body and spirit. As FastCompany recently reported, recreational programs, and counseling and health services — previously organized separately — are now being unified to present students with a more fitting range of services.

This new “one-stop shopping” model, reports Fast Company, replaces the scattered services and disparate offerings that most colleges provide. Armed with a variety of services, multipurpose wellness centers “can open new doors for shared programming, increase synergies among student services, reduce operational costs, and support an institution’s health and wellness objectives.”

From COD Newsroom.

Many schools are moving towards multipurpose wellness centers. From COD Newsroom.

Certain schools have already begun adopting the multipurpose model. Take The University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, for example, which was designed with “sustainability, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention” goals in mind. The center includes a health clinic and research labs, a fitness center, a health-conscious cafe, meeting areas and classrooms, a research and educational grocery lab; and even a roof outfitted with vegetable and herb gardens.

The Center at UC Denver is LEED-certified and boasts a 95,000-square-foot space, outfitted with a menu of unique services including performance training and sports nutrition, cooking classes, and a range of educational offerings including mindfulness training, nutrition and weight loss services, and disease prevention programs, among others. The mission, according to the center’s executive director Dr. James Hill, is simple: “We see wellness as more than what’s wrong with you. It’s about what’s right with you.”

Other schools are reframing their entire vision for student wellness, starting with their budgets. At Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, a new project called Wellness Revolution is replacing the school’s intercollegiate athletics program with a new wellness and fitness center. As the school’s president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, told FastCompany, “It was startling how much of our operating budget was devoted to athletics programming that only benefited 80 of our 2,100 students. It just didn’t make sense. So we decided to put all that funding into a ‘Wellness Revolution’ that can benefit every Spelman student.”

From COD Newsroom.

Physical health isn’t the only factor these centers will address. From COD Newsroom.

In addition to the new wellness center, the Wellness Revolution program also offers speaker events, physical challenges (such as “Active For Life: Campus Style!,” a six-week fitness and nutrition program), and online chats on health topics with leading experts.

Another option for schools is combining existing facilities into a uniform, “cohesive student learning environment,” like the Health and Learning Center at Northern Arizona University, which opened in 2011. That center is composed of five formerly-separate facilities, including intercollegiate athletics, recreation, classrooms, and student health and counseling services.

The amenities are interesting: an indoor jogging track, climbing wall, cardio theater and weight room are hallmarks of the Recreation Center, while health and mental health amenities include an expanded urgent care clinic, a larger counseling area, added employee resources, and a pharmacy. Beth Applebee, Northern Arizona University’s campus health director, explains: The “facility design has transformed the recreation health, disability, and athletic services provided on campus into a state-of-the-art collaborative health model for the future.”

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