Engineering Staff Member Develops Yoga Program for UWaterloo Staff

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Kathy Becker secured funding from the Staff Excellence Fund to promote wellness amongst staff.

Kathy Becker, a Teaching Development Associate in Engineering, remembers seeing advertisements for free yoga classes in the Daily Bulletin but could never manage to get to them because they weren’t offered on a regular schedule; by the time she found out about them, she already had other commitments in her calendar. She had the idea of creating a yoga series that staff could attend on a regular basis knowing that this could help improve her own and other’s wellness. It wasn’t long before this was a reality, thanks to Kathy’s work to prepare a successful proposal to the Staff Excellence Fund. The program runs every Wednesday at noon in the ENG 7 building in an area with lots of natural light with over 200 staff across campus who have benefited from this program at some point since its inception.

yoga

Kathy has heard from many participants about the impact of the series, “It makes them feel like a valued member of the university community, helps them alleviate physical tensions, and cope with stress in the workplace.” What she likes most about the series and its success is that she gets to meet so many people across campus that she would not have met otherwise.

The program has also had a ripple effect across campus, as she’s been contacted by other members on campus who want to start additional yoga programs. Kathy has been a mentor to these staff members to help them get the program off the ground and shares her experience in how to run them successfully. There are now at least three other fully subsidized active staff yoga programs happening on campus regularly.

When we asked what she felt the impact her program had on the wider community she noted that “People need opportunities for wellness. People are very busy before and after work and lunch time is the perfect opportunity to support wellness.” Staff members who are well are also in a better mindset to help the students who need them.

The future of the program is something that Kathy thinks a lot about. The funding from the Staff Excellence Fund ends in 2020 and will need a reapplication and volunteers to help it grow. Kathy often gets faculty or students who would like to attend, but cannot because the funding comes from money allocated for staff. She would love it if the program could be offered centrally to make it accessible across the university and break down the silos between staff, faculty, and students.

Kathy’s story is one of many University of Waterloo community members who are finding new and interesting ways to foster wellness on campus. To find out more about the Staff Yoga Series on campus, visit their website. To learn more about how you can be involved in initiatives that aim to increase wellness in our community or read other inspiring stories, visit the Wellness Collaborative website. And if you’re a UW staff member with an idea for an activity that would support wellness for other UW staff, Kathy asks that you consider preparing your own application for funding – details are available at Staff Excellence Fund webpage.

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