a therapy dog sits with student Dani Johnson in the library

Wellness is important focus for campus

Mental and physical well-being are at the heart of the campus' wellness goals. The committee hopes by showing others that positive thinking, along with physical activity and emotional wellness, will not only help them stay healthy and happy, but will also help them achieve their maximum potential in life.

Over the past several semesters, Penn State Shenango has experienced a transformation in programming as a result of the formation of the Shenango Wellness Program. This committee, headed by Dr. Joan Humphrey, instructor in allied health and nursing; Tony Paglia, campus counselor; and Danielle Johnson, administration of justice student, has worked together since the fall of 2014 to create and implement wellness-related programs for students, as well as faculty and staff.

The Shenango Wellness Program began in the early months of 2014 following Dr. Jo Anne Carrick’s appointment as campus director. Carrick charged Humphrey and Paglia with a vision of a collaborative team that would work toward the goal of making Penn State Shenango the healthiest campus in the Penn State system.

With Humphrey’s background in wellness education, Paglia’s experience in mental health, and their combined interest in holistic wellness, the pair quickly made plans to form a committee.  Humphrey identified Johnson as a highly motivated student with a particular passion for health and wellness. As a result, she was invited to be part of the group in order to bring a student perspective.

Noting that the Shenango campus has a wealth of students pursuing academic programs in health related fields, such as Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Human Development & Family Studies, the group discussed the importance of promoting personal wellness through campus events and programs. 

“We see physical and emotional wellness as a key to academic success,” said Paglia. “But also we feel that our students, by developing strong values for personal wellness as students, will be more effective as professionals as they help their consumers meet their wellness goals.” 

With this in mind, the trio have implemented a diverse array of programming designed to give students, faculty, and staff a variety of opportunities to focus on and improve their health. These initiatives have included walking groups, fitness challenges, awareness programs, an expanded annual health fair, yoga classes, a monthly meditation group, stress-relief opportunities, and even a student graffiti wall devoted to positive thinking.

“Wellness is a positive state of mind, a way of living,” Johnson said. “We hope to inspire others that positive thinking, along with physical health and emotional wellness, not only ensures that a person is healthy and happy, but also that he or she can achieve their maximum potential as a student.” 

The committee also extends its message through social media and by including a wellness column in a monthly campus newsletter. The Shenango Wellness Program strives to help in building a healthy Penn State community here in Sharon and continues to develop innovative programs with the intention of reaching students in new and engaging ways.