The Collegian
Sunday, February 25, 2024

New living learning program to focus on wellness and health

<p>The Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.&nbsp;</p>

The Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. 

Editor's note: This story was updated to remove inaccurate information about student feedback during the creation of the living-learning program. 

A new living-learning program, UR Living Well, will be offered next academic year to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors as part of the University of Richmond’s initiative to introduce modern approaches to well-being on campus.

The living-learning community is being provided for students with an interest in a well-balanced life, health and well-being and with a potential interest in health promotion with the larger campus, Andrew Gurka, the director of living-learning programs, said.

The concept for the living-learning community originated from the idea of health promotion that the administration is adopting, which includes the creation of the new Well-Being Center, Gurka said.

The program will have three main focuses: wellness outreach and peer education, self-care and experiential learning. Participating students will create outreach events throughout the year, engage with speakers who will teach about meditation, physical activity and nutrition, sleep, stress and mindfulness.

“We want the program to be driven by the interests of the students who end up participating in the community,” Gurka said. 

Students will also be provided with a fitness tracker to keep and use for their own personal wellness research. It will track not only exercise and activity but sleep and other factors that contribute to a person's well-being.

UR Living Well does not have a unit-bearing course associated with it, but students will be able to receive credit for one or two of their WELL 090 courses, which are an academic requirement, Gurka said. Students will also have the opportunity to complete a wellness-related certification. Some offered certifications are:

• Mental Health First Aid

• BACCHUS Certified Peer Educator

• NETA Certified Wellness Coach

• A fitness-related certification

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• First Aid/CPR/AED

UR Living Well is an additional living-learning community, joining Earth Lodge as the second themed community being offered on campus next academic year. Earth Lodge residents are located in Lakeview Hall. The UR Living Well program has not confirmed where residents will be located yet, Gurka said.

Some students think it is a great addition to the living-learning programs already offered, they said. Senior Cassie Gilboy participated in the living-learning program Global Health with political science professor Rick Mayes as part of the Sophomore Scholars in Residence program, and thinks highly of her experience and the experience that students will have in UR Living Well, she said.

“Living-learning communities are a great way to help people grow around an interest they are passionate about," Gilboy said. "They give people the opportunity to find a niche or home within the larger campus. The more options there are, the better the programs will serve the student body, especially because a lot of people are passionate about wellness.”

For another student, the focus on wellness has been a long time coming. Senior Susie Black said she thought the program would help students become more involved in improving wellness on this campus and that those students' opinions would be more heard by the administration.

“It is important now more than ever with the new wellness building and programming on campus to engage students residentially to explore topics in a more substantial way,” Gurka said.

At the information session held Nov. 14, over 100 students attended to find out more details and learn about the application process. Twenty students will be accepted into the living-learning program.The deadline for the living-learning community applications is Feb. 6.

Contact senior features writer Louise Howorth at 

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