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PEAR takes over control of Winter Wellness Challenge, hopes to make it more inclusive

Carleton’s Physical Education, Athletics, and Recreation program (PEAR) is organizing a “Winter Wellness Challenge” encouraging students to stay active and explore new activities available at the Rec Center this winter. The challenge requires participants to log points by meeting physical, nutritional, and social goals such as sleeping 7-8 hours a night, stretching or being active for at least 30 minutes, meditating, and spending time with friends.

As its name implies, PEAR supports all facets of athletic and recreational activity at Carleton from varsity, club, and intramural sports, to PE classes and Rec Center resources. PEAR focuses on providing opportunities for all students to be active, hoping to cater to students of all athletic abilities. PEAR also hosts the MindBodySpirit program which offers additional classes for students, faculty, and community members such as Barre, Zumba, Kickboxing and much more.

Carleton students and faculty a register for PEAR’s Winter Wellness Challenge earn self-tracked points by engaging in any type of physical activity, maintaining a nutritious diet, or investing time in emotional and mental wellbeing. According to Jenna Kuhlman, the program organizer, “the goal of this winter challenge is for everyone to participate. We want those that are new to fitness, need a little push, or those that are fitness lovers to get involved.”

The challenge is designed to support any and all types of healthy living and can be completed individually or in groups. At the end of the term, points are totaled and the individual or team with the most points wins a prize. A second prize is awarded to a random contestant.

The Office of Health Promotion (OHP) and PEAR have organized similar events in past years. According to the Director of the OHP Janet Lewis Muth, the OHP opted not to run a Wellness Challenge this year for several reasons including a lack of staff capacity, low participation rates, and a lack of evidence that it was effective.

This year’s program led by PEAR is unique in its flexibility. Challenges in past years were structured with specific activities assigned to each day. Jenna Kuhlman explains that PEAR decided to re-design the challenge this year to encourage more participation and to “focus on a work-life balance because we think people spend too many hours sitting at their desk and not putting their health as a priority. We want people to be aware that they can stay healthy by doing little things each day to better their physical, emotional and mental health.”

PEAR has moved away from this more structured approach and is now placing focus on promoting a healthy work-life balance, expanding the program to include all types of exercise as well as organized activities to promote emotional health. This shift reflects the growing awareness on Carleton’s campus around the importance of mental wellbeing in addition to physical strength. “Mental health is really important but a lot of people don’t value it enough,” says Hannah Frankle ’23.

Students and faculty can register for the Winter Wellness Challenge through the PEAR website under the “MindBodySpirit” section to participate. All participants will be guaranteed a Rec Center 20th Anniversary t-shirt!

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