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#Grinwell comes to a close

This semester, the President’s Office launched a campaign known as the President’s Wellness Challenge to encourage students to live healthier lifestyles, as part of a larger wellness campaign called GrinWell. The challenge, which began Monday, Sept. 29 and will end on Friday, Dec. 19, was structured as a smartphone app that allows students to track their wellness through daily goals.

The goal of the challenge was to create awareness of wellness on campus and lead to the development of positive, healthy habits.

“It’s about changing behavior at the individual level and changing culture at a community level,” said President Raynard Kington.

Wellness Director Jen Jacobsen ’95 noted that at Grinnell, it is easy to ignore wellness in lieu of other, seemingly more pressing matters such as academic work for students.

“It’s easy to put off self-care until later,” she said.

Kington spearheaded the movement and announced during a convocation in September that he would be tweeting and posting his progress on the app throughout the 12-week challenge. However, Kington’s most recent tweet from his Twitter account, @GrinPres13, came in

October.

“I just couldn’t get into the tweeting thing,” Kington said. “The tweeting thing and the app. The combination, I couldn’t quite get it. It just didn’t work for me.”

Jacobsen pointed out the importance of thinking about wellness now, as those who live healthy lifestyles in their college-age years are more likely to continue that pattern after graduation. However, Jacobsen said that Grinnell’s culture often does not promote healthy living.

“If you are not well, if you are not taking care of yourself, if you don’t feel like you have permission to take care of yourself, which sometimes I feel like Grinnell culture doesn’t give us permission, then it’s hard to engage well,” she said. “If you’re just moving from paper to paper trying to make it from class to class, you’re missing out on a lot of the experience here.”

Iulia Iordache ’15, SGA Vice President for Student Affairs and a member of the Wellness Committee, praised the movement for promoting awareness on campus, but also noted that the campaign could have been more successful if it were managed differently.

“I think that for an initiative like this to succeed, it would have needed more student input and it would have had to be more student-driven,” she said.

Jacobsen expressed a similar sentiment, stressing that student input was vital for a movement like this one to be successful.

“I’m also really hopeful that students who have a response to this, who have an idea, will feel comfortable emailing me,” Jacobsen said. She can be reached at [wellness].

The President’s Wellness Challenge app was download by over 200 students, although many did not stay up-to-date on completing their goals as the semester wore on. In the future, Jacobsen has ideas for how to make wellness more open-minded. She said she is curious to see if wellness can be thought about on a broader scale, focusing on community rather than individual goals.

Iordache also stressed the idea of less-specified goals.

“Now we’re pondering what we should do about the busy culture at Grinnell. Instead of telling people how to be well, allowing every individual to discover what wellness is for themselves,” she said. “We’re trying to think about how to allow people, instead of imposing standards.”

Kington agreed that approaching wellness from an individual perspective may have been more conducive to wider changes at a community level overall.

“It’s about changing behavior at the individual level and changing culture at a community level,” he said.

Kington also noted how small changes could lead to large results, such as the suggestion that campus events provide more vegetables and fruit and less pizza and cookies.

In the near future, Kington expects to meet again with the Wellness Committee, which is evenly comprised of students and staff, to create a more productive plan for healthy living at Grinnell.

“I’m going to try to sit down again with the Wellness Committee and our health people and say, ‘What did we learn and what can we do better?’ We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep trying to get better and get it right.”

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