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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Wellness Expo promotes comprehensive health

The McDonald Center for Student Well-Being at Notre Dame hosted its annual Wellness Expo on Friday afternoon, offering a glimpse of the many services the organization — housed in Saint Liam’s Hall — has to offer. In addition to booths of groups already in the Center for Student Well Being, also referred to as McWell, groups such as the Multicultural Student Programs and Services and LimeBike that support aspects of student well-being on campus also showcased what they have to offer. The expo had activities, including decorating pumpkins and playing with puppies, as well as information about resources students may not be aware of.

Students decorate pumpkins and participate in crafting activities at the Wellness Expo.
Annie Smierciak
Students decorate pumpkins and participate in crafting activities at the Wellness Expo.

“[McWell] is a center in which students can enhance their well-being, so not just focus on just doing okay, but actually thriving and really flourishing during their time here,” Kelly Hogan, director of the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being, said.

Hogan said the purpose the expo itself is to allow students a more accessible way to learn about the resources available at their fingertips.

“We have [the expo] every year,” Hogan said. “The purpose of it is to connect students to resources across all of campus for those partners that want to participate, so it's the departments that actually assist in supporting their well-being.”

The annual Wellness Expo may allow students to explore an aspect of campus that is both free of charge and offers healthy ways to deal with stress, Hogan said.

Sophomore undergraduate assistant at McWell MacKenzie Isaac said McWell promotes self care.

“Saint Liam’s is typically known for two things: the University health services on the first floor and the counseling center on the third floor, but what a lot of people don't realize is that McWell is kind of the medium that helps you prevent having to go to either of those places,” Isaac said. “It kind of breaks down the stigma that a lot of Notre Dame students have of just relaxing for a bit, practicing self care and talking through certain campus issues with people who are there and willing to listen.”

The McDonald Center for Student Well-Being also offers the help of care consultants on the third floor of Saint Liam’s. Annie Eaton, a care consultant available for help on campus, said she can direct students to helpful resources.

“We are another layer of support if students have issues that come up, and they are not sure how to navigate them,” she said. “They can come talk with us, and we can help point them in the right direction with who we feel can assist them besides us.”

McWell offers students a variety of ways to destress and unwind. Students can book one of their rooms that are prepared specifically for relaxation that can be tailored to their needs, she said. 

“The great thing about McWell is that it’s an entire experience,” Isaac said. “It’s personalized and catered to your needs, depending on what you need at a given time. There are spaces individualized to you, and collaboration spaces depending on what you need. So I think that students should go to McWell if the hustle and bustle of a high paced school like Notre Dame gets overwhelming sometimes.” 

“The space is actually driven by the students, for the students,” Hogan said. “When we developed it, and we actually focus grouped them, they told us what they wanted the space to be for their well-being.”

Although bringing dogs to campus is certainly a draw for many, there are other reasons students should visit McWell and get involved in their services, sophomore in  Thrive Leadership Program at McWell Hannah Dutler said.

“I think this center is really important because a lot of the time we forget about the mental health of the students, and we expect so much of them, especially the freshmen having such a huge transition, to have some people there who are willing to talk to them, to support them really helps with their mental health,” she said.

Especially at the start of the year, students believe that having the Wellness Expo can help ease the tension of moving into a new environment, sophomore Morgan Peck said.

“Being a college student is hard enough, and I think at Notre Dame the expectations are even higher, so learning how to take care of yourself and excel in that area as well as academically is really important, especially since they have such diverse programs to help support one's well-being,” Peck said.