Dear Grinnellians,

In the spring of 2013, Samantha Schwartz ’14 submitted a proposal to the Innovation Fund to create a central space for wellness on campus. While President Kington was intrigued by the idea, he wanted quantitative and qualitative proof that such a space was necessary and desired at Grinnell. At this point, Samantha teamed up with Jen Jacobsen (Wellness Coordinator) and Harriett Dickey-Chasins from SHACS. After reviewing the data from several mental health surveys taken on campus (namely the ACHA/NCHA survey conducted in 2012), it became clear that Grinnell is in need of more proactive opportunities for wellness and self-care.

Thus, the idea of the Wellness Lounge was born, as a place for students, faculty, and staff to come to relax, reflect, or simply just hang out. It is a space designed for de-stressing through all kinds of self-expressive and rejuvenating activities. The Wellness Lounge will be situated in the Laurel Leaf Lounge, a central location that is already used for students to relax. This space will undergo somewhat of a transformation in order to make it cozier and more conducive to wellness; however, we do not intend to compromise the integrity of the space as it stands. We want to augment the student experience in the space and improve upon its current functionality. This center is an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort to provide resources and workshops that target all aspects of wellness and encourage the prioritization of self-care on campus. Since this is ultimately a student space, we welcome any suggestions.

The goal of the wellness lounge is not to tell you how to take care of yourself, but to make available the resources needed for your own self-exploration and care. It’s no secret that Grinnell has a culture of stress, which, when not cared for, manifests as mental health struggles, substance abuse, or otherwise destructive behavior. Our goal is to help people find new, better ways of coping.

This fall, the board of directors are working to develop a realistic, comprehensive vision for a center that could provide this. We are grateful to have already garnered so much faculty, staff, and student enthusiasm for our center. Departments including Wellness, Academic Advising, Student Affairs and SHACs have expressed their support. We have also received a great deal of support from faculty members. Student groups including Active Minds and SGA have backed our project, but we are looking for your support as well!

So, this Monday, September 16 from 6-8:30 p.m., we welcome you to attend our Wellness Lounge Warming Party. During the lounge warming, you can expect to see a floor plan of potential improvements of Laurel Leaf, booths with crafts and activities that explore various aspects of personal wellness, free smoothies, and an opportunity to give your support and suggestions.  We are so excited for this opportunity to collaborate with you on this project!

See you there,

The Wellness Lounge Board of Directors

Anya Vanecek ’14 (Outreach Director), Tayler Chicoine ’15 (Environmental Director), Claire Lowe ’14 (Arts Director), Jasmine Gerritsen ’16 (Fitness Director), Eric Mistry ’14 (IT Director), Daria Brosius ’15 (Assistant Director), and Samantha Schwartz ’14 (Executive Director)