Employee Wellness Collaborations

Wellness Heroes

Wellness Hero Web Banner Final

Wellness Heroes showcase Mount Royal University employees who actively incorporate elements of wellness into their daily routine. Each month, a different MRU employee will be profiled.

The concept of "wellness" extends beyond the aspect of physical health. Wellness can consist of elements of physical, emotional, environmental, financial, occupational, social, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. For the 2018-19 academic year, we'd like to showcase one employee for each of these specific dimensions of wellness.

Would you like to nominate a Wellness Hero? Please fill out the nomination form.

See our 2018/19 Wellness Heroes below:

Angie Smith

Angie Smith
Academic Advisor/Instructional Assistant
Department of Child Studies and Social Work

Angie was nominated as a Wellness Hero for her passion in finding opportunities to grow the social and occupational well-being of herself, her colleagues, and the students they interact with. Angie believes that all of these aspects of well-being are really a part of good self-care, something she says they actively encourage in the students that come through the Child Studies and Social Work programs. "But I found it was hard for staff and faculty to take their own advice," she admits.WHAngieSmith

Angie says that the inspiration to start these events began with noticing that the "aura" on the third floor of the T-Wing didn't feel very welcoming or connected and she wanted to change that. "Anything involving food usually gets a great turn out … the 'Soup for the Soul' day was our first attempt to bring in a sense of community to our students and department ... then it just took off from there."

Starting small with an event like Soup for the Soul for the students made her realize that the bit of extra work it took to make the event happen would be worth the long term positive effects on the floor.

Bolstered by this success, Angie started to add in more opportunities. Her "No-shop Talk" Tuesdays, a weekly gathering where her and her colleagues share lunch and do not talk about work, have become very popular. She says they are becoming more of a daily habit and everyone is benefitting: "Everyone is busy and work responsibilities are demanding, but knowing you have co-workers down the hall that can take the time out of the 'business' to check in with each other or participate in a self-care event, brings another level to our work relationships."

The latest initiative that Angie started was a Mobile Massage - which was enthusiastically received and Angie says they will definitely run the event again.

Angie is a true example of what thinking outside of the box to encourage wellness can look like. She says that with these events she has felt the "aura" of the floor change and real connections are happening. "Bringing a sense of community to the department and facilitating these self-care opportunities to my co-workers brings me a sense of accomplishment and joy," Angie says.

Thank you, Angie, for being a Wellness Hero, and for encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL!

Picture: Left to right: Heather Pollard and Gina Adams (sitting), Linda Sutherby and Angie Smith (standing)

Zoë Say

Zoë Say
Program and Engagement Director for the YYC Campus Ministry
Zoë was nominated as a Wellness Hero for her work in facilitating weekly drum circles here on MRU campus. Her energy and enthusiasm for this work is evident as she claims it combines many of her passions including connection, music, co-creation, self-expression, and playfulness. For over nine years, Zoë has been participating in these circles, and facilitating them for others over the past four.WHZoeSay

Zoë feels connected to the community that has arisen from this work, and regularly participates in trainings and workshops to further her learning. This helps to foster continued growth, development, imagination, and new ways of facilitating. Her musical background and love of fostering community, braver spaces, and playfulness have all contributed to her growth as a facilitator of this work.

So how does participating in a drum circle contribute to wellness, you might ask? As Zoë mentions: "Research is increasingly showing that drum circles are a highly effective way of facilitating human connection, as well as increasing a feeling of well-being in participants and decreasing feelings of anxiety and tension... Drumming has a great mind-body connection, because it is kinesthetic and necessitates players to be present in the moment, as they respond to changing rhythms in the circle… Participants often comment that they feel less socially isolated after participating in a drum circle, as they are constantly interacting, though non-verbally, with all those in the circle to make a synergetic song together. Drum circles are also creative and playful, which is often a well needed break from the intellectual realm of academia..."

Zoë believes that it is important that we find ways to express ourselves and be creative as adults, and that these types of experiences don't need to stop once we outgrow childhood. Part of this playfulness is giving yourself permission to try something new! This is how we learn and grow and ultimately are able to laugh at our mistakes and bring more fun and laughter into our lives. We commend Zoë for all her efforts in creating these spaces here at MRU and encouraging others to LIVE WELL!

You can find Zoë every Thursday in the Yellow Room (Z207) on the second floor of Wyckham House, from 4:30 - 5:45 p.m., and on Wednesdays at the University of Calgary. She also facilitates occasional drum circles for staff, faculty, classes, trainings, leadership conferences, NSO, Wellness de-stressing events, and for other campus events at both UCalgary and MRU.

For inquiries, Zoë can be reached at: zoe@yyccampusministry.com

Eduardo Ramirez

Eduardo Ramirez
Administrative Assistant
Accessibility Services
WHEduardoRamirezEduardo was nominated as being an all-round Wellness Hero as he is intentional in incorporating many of the elements of wellness into his daily routine, including social wellness (making time for friends), physical wellness (going to the gym daily), and occupational wellness (regularly volunteering at campus events). We'd particularly like to highlight Eduardo's commitment to his intellectual wellness based on his current pursuit of his Masters degree while working full-time.

Eduardo is committed to continuous learning and is completing his Masters of Education in Post-Secondary Studies, taking one course per semester online. The program is helping him focus his career path while providing him with skills and tools to achieve his professional goals. Eduardo discovered his passion for working with post-secondary students through his time at MRU, and through his Masters, is finding he is better able understand and support students.

Eduardo is currently finishing his first year of the program. We'd like to commend him for his dedication to his intellectual growth and wellness and in acting as a wellness role-model for others at MRU. As Eduardo mentions, "wellness can take many forms.." and we'd have to agree! Thanks Eduardo for being a Wellness Hero and encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL!

Susan Garrow-Oliver

Susan Garrow-Oliver
Associate Professor
Faculty of Child S
tudies & Social Work

Pictured above (L to R): Theresa, Audra, Heather, Susan and Michelle (the "Wednesday Walker" club)

Susan was nominated by her colleagues as a Wellness Hero for her initiation of a "Wednesday Walker" club -- a time to take a break, increase activity, and connect with colleagues every Wednesday during the lunch hour. Susan believes that being part of this group contributes to many aspects of her wellness including the support of good physical, social, and mental health.

"...when we returned from summer break, [my colleague] Heather and I decided to start this [club] and to invite/encourage our peers."

Together, Susan, Heather, and others in their department made a commitment to scheduling time in their calendars every week for their walking group. "...[W]e felt it was important to schedule this in as we get so easily wrapped up in work and have a difficult time getting away from our computers/work."

During her sabbatical last year, Susan made a shift to prioritize her health. She not only participates in the "Wednesday Walker" club, but also walks 4-5 times per week in the evenings on her own time. She is keen on maintaining a good balance, while also modelling positive healthy habits to her peers and her students.

When asked what words of advice that Susan has for other MRU employees, she states: "make the time and schedule it in your calendar, then there are no excuses". We'd have to agree! Whether it's regularly scheduling the time for yourself, or turning a regular meeting into a "walking meeting", be creative with your schedule and make your wellness a priority. We celebrate Susan and others in her department for being so forward thinking and creating a club that helps to support a variety of the dimensions of wellness. Thank you, Susan, for being a Wellness Hero and encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL!

See our 2017/18 Wellness Heroes below:

Pat Pardo

Pat Pardo
Accessibility Services
Pat has been recognized as a Wellness Hero for her holistic approach to wellness, in that she is intentional in taking consistent care of her mind, body, heart, and spirit. By doing so, Pat feels that she can bring her true and authentic self to her work, inevitably having a positive impact on students, staff, faculty, and her team.She is known for her enthusiastic and infectious positive outlook and energy.
wellness practices that Pat incorporates into her day-to-day routine include: scheduling time for meditation and reflection, creating an office space that is welcoming and promotes peace and harmony, exercising between 4-6 days per week, drinking plenty of water, starting each day by reading inspirational quotes, packing a healthy lunch rather than purchasing one, as well as making time to intentionally connect with team members, colleagues, and students.

Pat says that her passion for wellness is part of her life's purpose and she has invested in her personal well-being to better understand herself. She feels that it is very important to practice what she preaches and hopes that her passion and action for wellness are evident and inspire the rest of her team.

When asked if she had any words of advice for fellow MRU colleagues, Pat says: "I believe that we all have a purpose and that we are connected, so in choosing to invest in being the very best that you can be, you are not only influencing the quality of your life, but also the energy that connects us all as a community. We can and do make a difference!" Such beautiful words. Thank you, Pat, for being a Wellness Hero and encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL!

Joyce Woods

Joyce WoodsWellness Hero Joyce Woods
Associate Professor
Department of Nursing & Midwifery

Joyce has been very active all of her life. Being tall made her a good candidate for basketball, volleyball and track & field; she enjoyed these sports and participated in them regularly over the years. Growing up in Saskatchewan, Joyce also became involved in curling at an early age and still adamantly follows the sport, rarely missing a tournament or event on television.

When Joyce was 49 years-old, she suffered a heart attack; both heart disease and diabetes runs in her family. In knowing these things and in being trained as a nurse, Joyce was very aware of the necessity to remain as active and healthy as possible. Despite this, Joyce says at that time she had about 50-60 extra pounds to lose. Ten years ago, she made the decision to change that. With an increase in exercise and much healthier food choices, she was able to lose 60 pounds and keep the weight off. She says that it definitely wasn't easy, but possible with commitment and determination. For her, it's a decision that she is reminded of every day and is thankful that these healthy habits have become part of her lifestyle.

Besides visiting the gym several times each week, Joyce has made a goal of walking at least 10km per day (13,000 steps) and achieves 15-20km on most days (especially on weekends). She also ice skates a couple times per week in the winter and cycles throughout the summer months, as well as regularly takes dance lessons. When asked if she has any advice for others who may be aspiring to lead a healthier lifestyle, Joyce says it's about simple changes like doing something active while watching television or reading a book, rather than just sitting. She feels fortunate to have recognized the need to change her lifestyle and enjoys very good health, strong bone density, and loads of energy at the age of 73! Way to go, Joyce-thank you for being a Wellness Hero and encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL

Laurie Lancaster & daughter Taylor Jensen

Laurie Lancaster Wellness Heroes Laurie and Taylor
Assistant Professor
Bissett School of Business, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Taylor Jensen
Fourth year MRU student majoring in Anthropology and
minoring in History and International Business

This mother-daughter duo is an inspiring MRU pair; three mornings a week you will see them working out together -- running on the track and using free weights. Their routine has been well established for over 2 years now and stemmed from their desire to contribute to their overall health and well-being. Their workouts not only help them maintain their physical wellness, but also help to give the pair more energy to face the day and most importantly contributes positively to their mental health and stress management. Not to mention, the workout allows the two to spend valuable time together and motivates them to stick to their routine, holding one another accountable.

Seeing and feeling Wellness Heroes Laurie and Taylorthe positive benefits of consistent exercise has also helped the pair maintain their routine. For Taylor, exercise gives her a break from school and allows her to feel refreshed and improves her focus. For Laurie, the workout is energizing and allows her to be more engaging in the classroom. When asked what words of advice and encouragement that they would provide to others at MRU, Laurie mentions that consistency rather than intensity of the workouts has been key: "Doing something active every day that you enjoy, even if you only have 15-20 minutes, is a great way to build a fitness habit. The mental and physical benefits that you experience will motivate you to keep going." We couldn't have said it better ourselves! Thanks Laurie and Taylor for being Wellness Heroes and encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL!

Young-Cheol Jung

Wellness Hero Young-Cheol Jung Young-Cheol Jung
Assistant Professor
Department of Economics, Justice and Policy Studies

If you've ever been at the MRU fitness centre in the morning (7am) or afternoon (5pm), you may have witnessed an incredible sight. You might not guess it by his title, but Young is an avid dancer. From Hip hop to the Shuffle and the Charleston, Young practices his dance routine daily. He has regularly practiced this routine for over 2 years now, about half the time that he's worked at MRU.

Young took up the hobby of dance as a way to lose weight and improve his quickness and agility. Since the time that he began dancing, he has seen positive results in his weight, muscle tone, and flexibility.

We commend Young for his commitment to wellness by regularly incorporating dance into his day as a means to contribute to his physical health. His dedication, commitment, and sheer ability inspire us to find something that we enjoy that also gets us moving. When asked what his words of advice and encouragement were for others at MRU, Young states that regular dancing is important and that if you learn a few basic steps and routines, it can make the experience that much more enjoyable. Thanks Young, for being a Wellness Hero and encouraging others at MRU to LIVE WELL!

Click here to check out Young's dance moves!