A holistic view of wellness
November 21, 2017
Students walking into the Innovation and Wellness Centre (IWC) next fall may find themselves spending a lot of time in the space.
In addition to being a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship resources, and academic labs and classrooms for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the IWC will be a place where students maintain and build upon their positive physical and mental health and wellness.
“Physical and mental well-being are important preconditions for academic success,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean (Student Affairs). “This new facility will provide Queen’s with the flexibility to meet the rising demand across the spectrum of wellness services. Co-locating services that support wellness will emphasize to our students the important relationships that connect mental health, physical well-being, and academic success.”
The creation of the IWC was made possible through $55 million in philanthropic support, including $40 million to revitalize the facility and $15 million specifically earmarked for student wellness and academic programming. In addition, the federal and Ontario governments contributed a combined total of nearly $22 million to this facility.
The IWC will house modernized facilities for Student Wellness Services, configured so that physicians, nurses, and counsellors all share the same space. The main floor will also be home to Queen’s Student Accessibility Services and a new health promotion hub.
“Our hope is that the revitalized, more central location of our services will better engage students in health-promoting activities,” says Jennifer Dods, Executive Director, Student Wellness Services. “The biggest change for us will be a greater integration of our services, which will be noticeable from the moment you walk in the door. Our new space in the IWC will feature one shared reception for our services, which will mean one point of entry and less stigma for students accessing counselling, health, or accessibility supports.”
The IWC will also include an expanded interfaith chaplaincy, the Queen’s University International Centre, refreshed athletics training space including the three existing gyms, the Student Community Relations office, and a new Examination Centre to support faculties and schools. University Registrar John Metcalfe notes the number of accommodated exams and midterms continues to rise each year.
“As we prepare for the move to the new centre, we are taking the opportunity to refresh our business processes, moving away from paper forms in favour of an online system,” says Dr. Metcalfe. “Between these changes, and the co-location of the Examination Centre with other wellness services, the process of securing an accommodation for an exam will be much less stressful for all involved. The intent is to create clarity on where to go, and offer a streamlined process for accommodations for both graduate and undergraduate students.”
The Examination Centre will include 70 private and semi-private rooms with adjustable desks; some will offer computers and specialized software. There will be no carpeting or fluorescent lighting, meaning students with light sensitivities or allergies can write without distraction, and some private rooms will be soundproofed for those who need to speak while writing.
The Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is also looking ahead to the move. The QUIC team, currently located in the John Deutsch University Centre, has a front row seat during the ongoing construction. While there have been some noise issues, Director Jyoti Kotecha (MPA'03) says it will all be worth it once the team is in the new space, which features a larger kitchen and adds some meeting rooms.
“Our new space and its proximity to other Student Affairs services will make it easier to work collaboratively with partners such as the Peer Health Educators and the Chaplaincy,” says Ms. Kotecha. “Though the space is comparable in size, it is better laid out and offers us some room to grow, in alignment with the growth of international enrolment at Queen’s.”
Another group making the big move next door will be the Office of the Interfaith Chaplaincy. Chaplain Kate Johnson says the new space includes a dedicated quiet room for prayer or meditation, a lounge area, and an additional office which will be shared by the office’s three part-time chaplains.
“This additional room will offer us more flexibility and, coupled with the new staff, should allow us to expand popular programs like our “Cooking with Grans” offering,” says Ms. Johnson. “Moving the Chaplaincy into the Innovation and Wellness Centre will also reunite us with more Student Wellness services, better serving students in the process.”
The Innovation and Wellness Centre’s grand opening is planned for fall 2018.