Wellness Wednesday improvises class discussion

McKenna Scherer, Editor-in-Chief

On April 24 from 3-4 p.m., the Integrated Wellness Center and the WELL  hosted the final Wellness Wednesday of Winona State University’s 2018-19 academic school year.

The final topic that Wellness Wednesday covered was “Health & the Environment – A Guide to Living Sustainably.”

The Winona State University Environmental Club was originally going to be leading and speaking at the event, but did not show.

However, as students began heading to the IWC and into the WELL, where the event was taking place, two health promotions staff members came out of their offices to do an impromptu group discussion on sustainability.

Katie Jensen, the Health and Wellness Promotions Coordinator at Winona State, and Abby Quednow-Bickler, the Health Promotions Programming Graduate Assistant at Winona State, were in their offices in the WELL where students had gathered at 3 p.m. for the event. About five minutes later, the pair ventured into the common area of the WELL to let students know they had not been able to get in touch with the Environmental Club on whether or not they would still be coming to lead the event.

After the day had passed, the Environmental Club said that there was miscommunication about the event and they were unaware they were scheduled to attend and lead the Wellness Wednesday event.

Some of the students that had come to attend the event had done so to gain information for class credit, and so Jensen and Quednow-Bickler stepped up to speak on a few topics of sustainability and initiate a group discussion to ensure that students would leave with some new knowledge.

“Some people think, ‘Oh, I can’t recycle because it’s too hard to keep up with and it doesn’t really make an impact,’” Jensen said. “But, what we know is if you recycle – or do little things like it – it can make a big change down the line.”

Students engaged in conversation with each other and with the health promotions staff, sharing their own methods of starting or maintaining sustainable lifestyles. The students discussed buying food in bulk — like buying an actual block of cheese instead of individually, plastic-wrapped slices – and composting in the SEED garden on campus, thrift shopping, utilizing reusable water bottles and new innovations being made by the energy-conscious vehicle company Tesla.

“We try to theme the Wellness Wednesdays around what’s going on around campus,” Jensen said. “I think students are becoming more aware of easy sustainability and earth friendly practices they can adopt.”

Health Promotions was happy to present the theme and found that it also fit in with the university’s school year theme of Resilience. As environmental health is also on the Seven Dimensions of Wellness, it reflects the balance between interacting with the world and encouraging a healthy relationship with that world’s environment.

“We have a responsibility for caring for the quality of air, water and land so that we and others have a better world both today and in the future,” Jensen said.

Recently, Winona State has started making even more strides towards being increasingly environmentally conscious and aware of what their students are asking for in that regard.

Already in place is the SEED  garden on campus and its many resources for sustainability as well as the annual event hosted by Winona State organization Dream Closet, where members collect clothing from the public to “sell” for free to the community twice a year.

Additionally, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bagels, located in the Darrell W. Krueger library on campus, have thick paper straws instead of plastic straws, and Winona State has recently implemented stock of metal straws for sale on campus – which sold out almost immediately.

“The small things we do now affect the people around us – and people in the future,” Quednow-Bickler said.