Members of Arts/PHE’73 at their 45th reunion in 2018.
Members of Arts/PHE’73 at their 45th reunion in 2018.

Arts/PHE’73 alumni provide vital support to student mental-health program

Many alumni – and classes – are coming back for Queen’s University Homecoming in October. Some are giving back as well.

Members of Arts/PHE’73 are celebrating their 50th reunion by raising funds for Prescription Exercise at Queen’s (PE-Q). The joint program run by Student Wellness Services and the Athletics and Recreation helps students with mild or moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression by giving them access to four hours of personal training and a peer wellness coach.

The idea for this legacy project started in 2018 during Arts/PHE’73’s 45th reunion. Supporting student mental health makes sense for physical and health education alumni who understand the connection between physical activity, wellness, and student success.

“I was a beneficiary of help from Queen’s as a student. Queen’s treated me well and helped me get through university,” says Arts/PHE’73 graduate Vicki Hand, a long-time Queen’s volunteer and donor who co-chaired the Queen’s Fields & Stadium Committee with her husband, Paul Hand, Arts’69, MBA’73.

Dr. Rick Helmes-Hayes is part of the Arts/PHE’73 reunion committee (along with Brian Davison and Chris Landreth Lust). Helmes-Hayes wanted to give back to Queen’s because the university gave him so much – classmates who turned into life-long friends and an education that led to a 30-year career as a sociology professor at the University of Waterloo.

“Anyone who gets the opportunity to go to university has a chance to see a different side of themselves,” says Helmes-Hayes. “It’s partly because of the people with whom they made friends, partly because of the teachers, and partly because of the nature of the university as a diverse and challenging intellectual environment. I am happy to help in whatever way I can to give other students a chance to have that experience.”

Arts/PHE’73 has been able to fund the Prescription Exercise at Queen’s program until the spring of 2024. The growth and positive student impact this program has demonstrated over the years has facilitated the interest of several other PHE reunion classes to inquire about supporting the program.

Acting Health Promotion Coordinator Beth Blackett, MA’06, who helps run Prescription Exercise, says the support from Arts/PHE’73 has been vital. 

“Anyone who has been involved in any type of physical activity understands there are huge benefits to your mental health, as well as your physical health,” says Blackett, noting the program helped 56 students during the 2022-23 academic year. “It’s hard to imagine how the program would continue if we didn’t have ongoing funding and support from the Class of Physical Education’73.”

The Prescription Exercise program aligns with Queen’s commitment to being a health-promoting university as a signatory to the Okanagan Charter

Class giving has always been a part of the Queen’s Homecoming tradition. During Homecoming 2022, 47 of the 90 reunion classes had fundraising campaigns, collecting more than $1.2 million.

People looking to support Prescription Exercise at Queen’s can make a donation online on the Give to Queen’s website.

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