The Celebrate You initiative, sponsored by the Student Assembly, Health Outreach Peer Educators, InterFraternity Council and AMP, begins today and will culminate Saturday, Oct. 25 with the Celebrate You concert.
The initiative is focused on promoting healthy living at the College of William and Mary.
The idea for the initiative originated within the IFC, as the group said they wanted to find a way to get members of the Greek community involved with conversations about mental health awareness. The mission evolved beyond increasing Greek involvement to engaging all members of the William and Mary community in conversations about health and wellness.
IFC President Alex Greenspan ’15 said he recognized a deficiency in the way the campus community addresses health and wellness. He emphasized the need for the community to come together in “healthy celebration.”
“I think it shows itself in a lot of ways, the lack of this school’s focus on positive health, not just getting sleep, but [not] going out to football games,” Greenspan said. “You know we don’t have great attendance all the time, we don’t have a lot of excitement when there are concerts, its like, ‘No, I have more important things to do.’”
Secretary of Health & Safety Andrea Aron-Shiavone ’15 said she also sees a need for positive health to be addressed at the College, mentioning that students don’t often take time to relax.
“We place academics so much above just taking a break and just taking time to ‘be’ and to just enjoy ourselves,” Aron-Shiavone said. “We really just want to encourage people that it’s important and necessary to take time to decompress and relax and to do something for yourself that might not be as productive toward your academics, but it is productive in … improving your own well-being.”
Celebrate You week kicks off with “Treat Yourself Tuesday,” which will include a free frozen yogurt bar in the Sadler Center. HOPE will lead the event, explaining how each of the toppings relates to health.
“Wellness Wednesday” will include a free Zumba class in Sadler and a presentation on authentic excellence by Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness Kelly Crace.
Crace will discuss the idea of fear-based excellence. Greenspan explained that Crace’s talk will fit in well with the themes of the initiative.
“There’s a lot of fear-based excellence at this school, where people are studying because they are afraid of failing,” Greenspan said. “[Crace] wants flourishing to happen out of a real love for what we are doing and not out of a fear of failing.”
Thursday’s programming will focus on gratitude. There will be tabling in Sadler providing students with materials to write out thank-you notes. Vice President of the Student Assembly Kendall Lorenzen ’15 said she feels gratitude is important when discussing wellness.
“Gratitude is a really effective way to increase your general life satisfaction overall [with positivity],” Lorenzen said.
“Festive Friday” will include several programs, including the Spooktacular, IFC dodge ball and the Safe Haven Space Opening. The Spooktacular entails several events like face painting, inflatables and a petting zoo at the Sunken Garden, as well as promotion for the new Safe Haven Space that will be opening in the Campus Center.
The Celebrate You concert, featuring Shwayze and Amtrac, will serve as the end to the weeklong initiative. The IFC will host an alcohol-free cookout before the concert Saturday; Greenspan explained that it will serve as an alternative to “pregaming” that might otherwise occur before the concert.
With regard to the collaboration between the four sponsoring organizations of the Celebrate You initiative, Greenspan reiterated that the week is a partnership between all the organizations. No one group is in charge of all the programming.
“We are all equal partners. It’s not three organizations working under SA leadership or IFC calling the shots for everyone else. It’s equal branding, it’s equal participation,” Greenspan said.
Overall, Aron-Shiavone expressed her desire for this week to get the campus community thinking about healthy living and positive health.
“There are so many great things about William and Mary students. We are very driven and we are very passionate and high achieving. And I think a lot of the times … we see those [aspects] in opposition with having a good mental health,” Aron-Shiavone said. “And I hope this week can be a good step in showing that these two mentalities don’t have to be in opposition and they can coexist. We can still be good students, we can still be driven and we can also take time to take care of ourselves.”
Editor’s note: Andrea Aron-Shiavone is a columnist for The Flat Hat.