Section: News

New initiative encourages students to practice self-care

In an effort to improve student health on campus, “Eat Well, Sleep Well, Be Well,” a campus-wide health initiative, is debuting this semester. Featuring a number of panel discussions and public speakers, the program hopes to foster a culture of healthy behavior among Kenyon students.

This program, created and led by the Cox Health and Counseling Center is a response to a campus culture that some faculty members believe promotes poor sleep and eating habits. Last fall, Associate Professor of English Jene Schoenfeld wrote a post on social media warning about the culture of stress at Kenyon, which she described as “to take pride in being hardworking to the point of sleeplessness and ill-health.”

“We want to see Kenyon graduates positively impact the world, and that begins with consistent and thoughtful self-care,” Christopher Smith, director of the Health and Counseling Center, said. With a tagline of “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” Smith hopes the campaign reminds students that they need to maintain healthy habits if they wish to have the strength to succeed academically.

So far, the “Eat Well, Sleep Well, Be Well” program includes three events scheduled during the fall semester.  On Sept. 20, the Health and Counseling Center will co-sponsor a panel on healthy eating in partnership with AVI, the Kenyon Farm and the Kenyon Athletics Department. The panel will take place at common hour in Peirce Hall, and afterward students will have a chance to talk with the speakers.

On Oct.  2, Heather Petersen, floor manager of the Kenyon Bookstore and certified aromatherapist, is going to give a talk at Weaver Cottage on “Sleep Promotion and the Wellness Benefits of Essential Oils.”

For the third event, the College will be partnering with the Knox Health Planning Partnership to show the documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope on Oct. 23. The screening is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Gund Gallery Community Foundation Theater, and will be followed by a community discussion.

“Eat Well, Sleep Well, Be Well” has garnered support from a variety of organizations across campus. Ryan Hottle, manager of the Kenyon Farm, is thrilled to be a part of the initiative. “It’s these kinds of partnerships that are really critical to making this kind of initiative work, perhaps more so than simply having discussions and talks,” Hottle said.

In addition to working with the Farm and AVI, the Health and Counseling Center is in early conversation with a number of student groups that could provide new perspectives on the issue.

Smith has also invited student organizations such as the Peer Counselors, Community Advisors  and Student Council to act as role models of healthy student behavior.

The goal isn’t to enact change through legislation; rather, the Health and Counseling Center hopes to educate students on how they can improve their own well-being.

“This campaign is designed to raise awareness and be introspective,” Smith wrote. “[We] ask that you be kind to yourself by eating balanced meals and getting adequate sleep. Those elements help build the foundation of health and self-care.”


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