The plan to embed a new concept of wellness at Hyde Woodstock began last fall with the introduction of Yoga and Mindful Meditation. Learning from the data collected during the sample, the Woodstock administration scheduled a December Wellness month within a three week time frame. All students faculty and staff participated in three Wellness programs each one lasting a week. Yoga was a big hit with Hyde-Woodstock students with over 25% of the student body participating. There was a great deal of excitement around the course as students used the time between dinner and evening study hall for the experience.
Woodstock Health Director Bobbi-Jo Saucier and Art Faculty Brooke Felt introduced the Wellness concept to the community, and worked with other administrators to select appropriate times and offerings. All students were invited to participate in the initial offerings, which included Mindful Meditation on Tuesday evenings, Yoga offered on Thursday evenings, and Massage therapy for faculty and staff.
The effort in the first three months was to gauge interest and to help students and faculty become familiar with incorporating these ideas into the Hyde education.
To provide the overall wellness program to everyone on campus, the committee implemented a revised daily schedule to include later wake-up and slightly more passing time between classes to reduce rushing. Also included were Wellness Blocks three times a week which students select prior to leaving for Thanksgiving vacation. These expanded options included lessons and workshops for: Along with Yoga, Mindful Meditation, the choicer were Zumba, Cross-Fit Training, Holistic Stress Reduction, Art Therapy, Tai Chi, Music Creation, Nutrition, Outdoor Adventure, Woodworking and Financial Wellness for Teens. The dining service also joined the effort by implementing a Healthy Food program focusing on offering more health conscious meals that include sustainable, local, and organic foods.
The school also has placed a renewed effort on increasing community time, including more time for Discovery Groups to meet, school meetings, and residential life activities.
Additional topics for future education and discussion include sex education, healthy relationships, community gratitude, peer mentoring, and self-defense. Hyde is currently partnering with a few outside organizations to facilitate these activities and provide professional expertise and high quality experiences.
Students have expressed a great deal of excitement and interest about the offerings and the administration is discussing schedule changes for the short term.
The Woodstock administration looks forward to further studying how a Health & Wellness Program can support and improve the Hyde education. What are the health benefits? How is student learning, in and out of the classroom, enhanced?
In December, the community was asked to completed surveys evaluating their experiences. Similar surveys will be administered at the end of the year. As feedback is gathered from these student and faculty experiences, improvements will be made to fine-tune and enhance the experience, including coming up with best practices.
Until details are worked out and feedback analyzed, key offerings will continue to be available to students throughout the year and additional options may become available based on successes gained from the Wellness Month.
Student Reese Norton summarized the benefits of the program, “As an athlete, yoga offered flexibility and release of the tension from my work, but it also offered a release from my stressful day and primed me for the rest of the week. I had heard the benefits in the past, but taking the step to do yoga made me a better athlete and a happier person.”
The hope is to continue with the program and eventually expand onto the Bath, Maine campus.