Locking Arms and Collaborating: An Integrated Approach to Health and Well-being: Phase 1

The Department of Recreational Services is now Recreation and Wellness Services (RecWell). This change is the culmination of several years of work accompanied by changing needs in Higher Education and following the NASPA and NIRSA joint commitment to well-being.

Kent State University has embraced the movement to weave an integrated approach to health and well-being into the institution's fabric. In 2020, the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) developed four organizational pillars and placed Recreational Services into the Advocacy, Support and Well-being (ASW) pillar.

Dr. Lamar Hylton, Sr. Vice President for Student Affairs, stated, "Student well-being at Kent State is rooted in a public health approach that enhances holistic health, well-being, and safety for all students. By implementing prevention and health promotion strategies, we can support academic success, promote student development and engagement, and strive for health equity. Simply put, the vision is to seamlessly integrate well-being and academic success to allow for students to thrive." 

These factors, including changes in our recreation and wellness industry and an increased emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, provided the impetus for the department to critically evaluate its organization and operational structure as an essential part of campus life. This process began with reviewing and updating the mission statement, values, goals and learning outcomes.

Recreation and Wellness Services’ new mission is to provide equitable recreational experiences through a culture of learning, growth, and well-being in a supportive, welcoming environment. Its values of belonging, development, integrity, quality and safety help support the foundation for the department’s new goals:

  1. To cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion through a safe and welcoming environment.
  2. Provide health and well-being opportunities for the university community through engagement in recreation.
  3. Promote personal, academic, and professional development through comprehensive experiences.
  4. Maintain and develop purposeful and mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships.
  5. Strengthen organizational stewardship through responsible and innovative fiscal practices.  

Changes and enhancements to RecWell’s organizational structure started with incorporating the Kent State of Well-being and former Office of Health Promotion into the department in June 2020. The Kent State of Wellness was rebranded to the Kent State of Well-being (KSoW) during the 2021 academic year, and a 3-year Strategic Plan was launched for Kent State of Well-being in May 2021. New positions were developed for an Assistant Director for the Kent State of Well-being, a Coordinator for Student Health and Well-being, a Coordinator for Student Personnel and Development, a Recreation Program Coordinator for Competitive Sports and Youth Programs and an Assistant Director for Aquatics and Safety. In addition to the new positions, staffing responsibilities were adjusted to include four promotions for staff that altogether helped highlight the organizational growth mindset and focus on the student development model. 

The pursuit of innovating, supporting, and fostering a holistic, integrated, and strategic approach to well-being is underway. RecWell’s focus is to develop a comprehensive approach to recreation, wellness, health promotion, and equity at Kent State by aligning multiple programs, services, and initiatives under one umbrella.

Amid a world-wide mental health crisis, support services are necessary to ensure personal success and a healthy community.

"Wellness is not owned by one department or entity on campus. However, Recreation and Wellness Services will lead the charge by locking arms and collaborating with campus partners to improve the health and well-being of all," said Kimberly F. Rufra, Associate Dean of Students, Recreation and Wellness Services.

For more information about Recreation and Wellness Services, visit www.kent.edu/recwell.

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 01:20 AM