Across the United States, colleges and universities are expanding resources to wellness resources and programs that better empower students' basic needs, from access to food and housing to childcare and mental health. Georgia Tech, with an established campus recreation and wellness model, has boldly committed to amplifying their efforts through the development of a comprehensive programs and services that strengthen campus community well-being and elevate student success. The university has defined five dimensions of wellness that guide its campus development: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual/professional, and social.
Georgia Tech engaged CannonDesign to conduct a feasibility study to understand how campus recreation and residence life can work in partnership to improve student access, awareness, visibility and engagement with physical health and wellness resources. The study sought to identify all possible ways to remove barriers for students who wanted access to these dynamic resources.
The result is a reimagined approach that distributes wellness services and resources across the 400-acre campus. The study reframes the challenge: it’s not about getting students to the recreation center; it’s about surrounding them each day with what they need for holistic wellness to build healthy habits and lives.
Together with Georgia Tech, our team identified 12 locations across the campus that catered to both their undergraduate and graduate populations with programming tailored specifically to the cohort it supported. We focused on bringing wellness spaces directly into the student housing precincts and focused on strategically identifying residence halls to host wellness spaces on the public levels, so that they could be easily accessed by the surrounding student community, as well as the halls’ residents.
The programming focused on providing a balance of each of Georgia Tech’s five accepted dimensions of wellness. The plan creates opportunities for physical and mental wellness spaces like fitness and yoga to outdoor recreation that encourages social wellness and play. In underclass housing, locations are identified for teaching kitchens to support nutritional health and cooking classes, preparing students who will have the option to move off-campus the following year. In graduate housing, where a large population are international students with families, spaces for shared meals and even a child playroom are prioritized.
The final plan ensures students can access health and well-being spaces quickly and easily—within a 5-minute walk from their on-campus housing.
This active health and wellness plan forges new partnerships among student affairs, residence life and recreation. The plan pushes programming well beyond out traditional sense of "place," focusing on the entire campus community. It creates a real-world ecosystem that empowers students to develop healthy habits they can take with them through their college careers and beyond.