By Melissa Lafrance on June 4, 2019
This month, we feature a recap of the 2019 Staff and Faculty Sports Day, which took place on May 3 and brought together UBC employees to take part in fun and collaborative challenges.
It was a record-breaking year for one of UBC’s largest events for faculty and staff. Hosted by UBC Human Resources and UBC Recreation, the annual Staff and Faculty Sports Day saw more than 800 participants from over 130 different departments, units and faculties in Vancouver and the Okanagan being active and having fun. Teams of four to six colleagues competed in a variety of fun recreational challenges and activities that could only be accomplished through collaboration and team spirit.
In Vancouver, the prize winners included:
- UILO So Good (Top Competitive Team Award)
- Team Peeps (Top Team Spirit Award)
In the Okanagan, prize winners included:
- Blue & Gold (Top Points Team)
- The Health Angels (Most Spirited Team)
- The BLUEs Brothers and the GOLDen Girls (Best Dressed Team)
Sports Day Benefits
In a post-Sports Day survey, over 92% of Vancouver participants noted that the event had a positive impact on their sense of community with colleagues at UBC.
One participant said that “the event really helped [them] get to know [their] new colleagues.” Because it was their first year working at UBC, taking part in Sports Day “really makes you feel like a part of a community.” Another participant thought Sports Day was “a great event that brought people in [their] unit together just for fun. It built a great sense of belonging.”
Paul Cyr, captain of UILO So Good, the top competitive team in Vancouver had this to say about this year’s event:
Sports Day provides a fun and social event to help build team spirit while getting a break from the usual workday routine. Having so many participants from all across UBC adds to the experience and sense of community.
Jonathan Easey, captain of Team Peeps which received the UBC Vancouver Top Team Spirit Award shared the following:
Our team had a fantastic time in this year’s Sports Day! This was our second year participating, and after the fun and camaraderie of last year we were eager to participate again. We know that we won’t ever be the fastest or the most competitive team time-wise, so we just like to have fun and cheer each other on as much as we can. We love getting to let loose, wear funky costumes and run around campus having a blast doing different activities, so winning the Spirit Award two years in a row really is such an honour for us. It’s great that the organizers see the value in having fun and supporting one another as a team in addition to competing for the best time.
Relive Sports Day
Hope to see all of this year’s participants – and some new faces – at the 2020 Sports Day. In the meantime, stay active with your colleagues!
Photo Credit: UBC Recreation
By Miranda Massie on March 4, 2019
This month’s Thriving Campus feature is Isabeau Iqbal, an educational developer in the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. Isabeau is also the mother of a teenager with an eating disorder. The following interview and information are being shared with permission from Isabeau and her daughter.
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Can you please tell us how you became aware of your daughter’s eating disorder?
I first became aware of the eating disorder in the summer of 2018. It took being off work and spending holiday time with my daughter to realize how bad it was. At first, it just looked like healthy eating and living (exercise, being cautious about eating foods we typically label as healthy – i.e. lots of fruit and vegetables). Then, I started to notice unusual behaviour around food, especially excessive planning and control. Once I realized how far along and how bad it was, I started looking for resources.
That process of finding resources was surprisingly difficult given the prevalence of eating disorders — trying to figure out who could offer what, and the fastest route [to treatment] was challenging. Early on, I realized I couldn’t just rely on the “free to me” resources in the external community: because the demand is so high, places like the Eating Disorder Clinic only see people who are advanced in their disorder. By coincidence, one of my colleagues from Alberta had presented at a conference I attended, where he shared his experience with his own daughter having an eating disorder. He was the first person I reached out to and he was able to connect me with the Looking Glass Foundation.
How has this impacted your work life?
For a number of months, I was like a deer in headlights, trying to figure out what was going on. Unless you’ve been through the experience, it’s hard to know [what it’s like]. I had never had any experience with mental illness before, so it was a really foreign experience for me. At first, I didn’t tell people what was going on because I was hanging on and trying to understand. I was so lost and trying to figure out what resources might be available to us – all this takes time.
I was receiving multiple calls a day from a highly distressed teenager. I cancelled a conference presentation and a few other significant commitments in order to be more available to my daughter. Thankfully, I work part-time and have a lot of autonomy and flexibility in my work. Eventually, I started telling a few close colleagues and my manager. I had understanding colleagues and collaborators which was really great.
Did you access any UBC specific resources during this time?
The mindfulness challenge. I had done it before, but maybe because of the situation, I felt it was more helpful this time around and I was more into it. That was probably the most helpful resource that I was able to access and make use of.
How are you and your daughter doing at this time?
She’s doing much, much better. She still experiences anxiety, which I think is the normal course of affairs, but she’s transformed. I see her smile, she has energy. I look into her face and it’s a different person. Our relationship is back to what it was.
The amount of crying and the amount of distress I felt in the fall was unlike anything I’ve experienced before, so the fact that she’s better, I’m better. I feel so lucky to have found a great therapist and nutritionist who have been able to support us. And I’m grateful for the support that we have at UBC in terms of benefits. In terms of flexibility and financial supports, it’s big.
Recognizing that eating disorders can have life-long implications, what are you doing to stay resilient and support your continued health and wellbeing?
The ability for me to be present for my daughter has been very important. I’ve been dabbling in mindfulness for a while, and I would say this [experience] really required me to be present. Because when she needed me, I had to let everything else go and be with her. Now, when my head starts to worry that this could come back, what if it happens when she’s not under my care and things like that, I try and bring myself to the now and let go of the worry. It’s too easy to slip into the what-if’s. I subscribe to the Headspace app which helps me keep up my mindfulness practice.
What does being a member of the UBC community mean to you in light of your recent challenges?
I have a supportive manager, as well as fabulous colleagues: they are good friends and people that I trust to be myself around. To be able to speak with colleagues and to let them know this is what’s going on for me has been important.
If you could offer advice to managers or supervisors on campus who don’t have experience in supporting their staff members in a time like this, what would you tell them?
Try and learn a little bit more about the experience that the person [staff member] is going through. I was able to tell my manager that my daughter has an eating disorder and that it is stressful, and it might have been helpful for me to say what that meant for me day-to-day. Ask the person, “What is important for me to know about [what you’re going through]?”
Do you have any suggestions or advice to offer to those who may be experiencing a similar challenge?
Do not suffer alone and do not wait. Access [available] help and resources as soon as possible. The change that we started to see as soon as my daughter started eating was encouragement enough to keep going. I started to see glimmers of recovery. Eating disorders are under the big umbrella of ‘mental health’, but it really is a specific area that needs specialized support. The most important thing is to find the support you need to get your child eating, and for us that was an amazing nutritionist. We are lucky, in this big city, that there are some fabulous and specialized therapists as well as other resources. Consider joining an online support network for people caring for someone with an eating disorder (FEAST-ED).
Why did you want to share this story with us and our Healthy UBC readers?
If this story can help one person, I will be happy. This is the hardest experience I’ve ever lived through. I felt so lost and so alone and so sad. My daughter and I want to share our experience to help others who may be going through something similar. During the fall, when my daughter was struggling through her recovery, I thought, many times, of how much easier it would be to be gone from this earth. I want people to know that getting help for an eating disorder is not easy, but there are ways forward.
To learn more or to support a person struggling with an eating disorder, please access the following resources:
- Employee and Family Assistance Program: Naturopath, dietitian, health coaching and family counselling services; confidential and available 24/7
- Extended Health Benefits: Coverage for naturopath and /or dietitian services
In the community
- Kelty Eating Disorders – BC support and resources
- Dietitians of Canada – Find a Dietitian Service
- Canadian Benefits for Caregivers
Photo credit: Isabeau Iqbal
By Marlene Dong on January 8, 2019
Thriving Campus highlights stories about health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month, we feature the UBC Bookstore’s staff and management team as our Thriving Campus profile. A special thank you to Debbie Harvie, Managing Director of University Community Services, for her contributions to this article.
The next time you step into the UBC Bookstore, think beyond the textbooks and UBC-branded merchandise. The store’s staff and management team are among the most engaged and active members of the UBC community. In addition to supporting students in their academic pursuits and enhancing campus life and the UBC brand, the UBC Bookstore represents a thriving, diverse workforce where staff are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work each day. They are motivated to fully participate in the campus community and to balance their work and personal lives.
Inclusivity on Display
Each year, the Bookstore’s buyers and marketing team develop a calendar of in-store displays to highlight a variety of interests and celebrations, including Freedom to Read Week, Lunar New Year, Pride Week, Black History Month and Remembrance Day.
To complement campus life, the Bookstore partners with a number of UBC departments and services to host special events in the adjacent outdoor plaza. The weekly UBC Farm Pop-up Market (May to October), annual Summer Sizzler (June) annual Blueberry Festival (July), Meet Your Maker food sustainability series (September) and UBC Athletics & Recreation pep rallies are just some of the ways the Bookstore builds connections across UBC. As well, Bookstore staff participate in several campus committees, such as sustainability and textbook affordability.
For UBC students, the Bookstore provides opportunities for them to pursue their hobbies and passions through events and sales initiatives. For example, students can DJ an event, try modelling, take photography or gain experience in event management. The UBC Bookstore hires over 80 students each year to support the busy back to class selling season. The store also hires “work learn” students interested in pursuing a career in graphic design and art as an “agency of one”, which simulates what it would be like to work for a marketing agency, from brainstorming and pitching to conducting meetings and completing projects for Bookstore “clients”.
Wellbeing in Action
The management team at UBC Bookstore recognizes the importance of supporting staff in their health and wellbeing. It’s why they encourage and sponsor staff to participate in the annual UBC Staff & Faculty Sports Day, Storm the Wall, or UBC Library Spelling Bee.
“Our staff like to get active,” says Debbie Harvie, Managing Director of University Community Services, which includes the UBC Bookstore. “Our in-store merchandiser conducts a morning stretch session for the early morning crew. We host monthly games nights and yoga classes with our vendor partners, and at our annual staff BBQ, there’s bocce, soccer and Frisbee games.”
And then there’s the food. Healthy, delicious, ethnically-diverse treats abound at the Bookstore during birthday celebrations, potluck lunches or retirement parties. During the busy back-to-class periods, sharing a meal or some snacks has become a great way for Bookstore staff in different departments to spend time together and enjoy a break.
Beyond the physical, emotional and social wellbeing benefits, the Bookstore recognizes the value that learning, training and professional development can bring to a team.
“Learning is a big part of our workplace,” notes Harvie. “Our Human Resources team coordinates lunch and learn sessions on a wide range of topics, including how to use your professional development funds, preparing for an interview, PowerPoint skills and retirement planning. We also send staff to training sessions and buying shows – both local and in Canada and the United States – to keep everyone’s skills and knowledge current and to encourage staff to make industry connections.” The Bookstore also honours retirees by displaying the names and years of service of retired staff.
Harvie adds, “It’s important for people to be given opportunities to engage with the campus community and for individuals to take advantage of these opportunities. UBC is an amazing, diverse, engaging and physically beautiful place to work. Tuum Est – it is yours!”
About the UBC Bookstore
The UBC Bookstore operates three retail stores: two on the Vancouver campus and one on the Okanagan campus. The Bookstore’s selection includes a full range of course materials, general books, stationery and UBC spirit items including logoed giftware and clothing.
The Bookstore employs over 85 full-time staff and up to 100 additional part-time staff during peak selling periods at the beginning of the fall and winter terms. Staff members have expertise in a wide range of areas, including buying, accounting, merchandise processing, display and customer service. Bookstore staff are recognized as experts in the campus store industry and many have served as training facilitators, committee members and association presidents both in Canada and in the United States.
Photo credit: Debbie Harvie
By Miranda Massie on October 23, 2018
In support of UBC’s commitment to workplace health and wellbeing, HR is bringing back a unique professional development opportunity for UBC Vancouver faculty and staff.
Developed at Google and founded in neuroscience, Search Inside Yourself (SIY) is a training program that uses emotional intelligence and mindfulness to optimize performance, build leadership skills and increase wellbeing. The SIY program consists of:
- 2-day, in-person, cohort-based training taught by SIY-certified instructors (January 14 and 15, 2019 at UBC Vancouver)
- 4 weeks of follow-up exercises, content and cohort conversations via email (approx. mid-January to mid-February)
- 1-hour debrief session via webinar to integrate learning, answer questions and provide direction going forward (approx. late February)
Cost: $50 per person (eligible for PD funding). Registration deadline: January 4, 2019.
Spots are limited and are filled on a first come, first served basis. Register now!
What previous participants had to say:
- 98% of participants would recommend the SIY program to a colleague
- 85% of participants felt more confident when having difficult conversations
- 88% of participants reported increased ability to remain calm in challenging situations
“The neuroscience information was insightful and the exercises and practices were interesting enough to consider implementing in my everyday life.”
“I learned that having more compassion towards others and self if a great way to show leadership, to step up and to be more valuable.”
For more information, including program benefits and what’s included in the cost of the program, visit the Search Inside Yourself webpage.
By Marlene Dong on October 3, 2018
Congratulations to Derick Chan, Liz Hudson, Harmony Johnson, and Alexa Love (UBC Press) and Kathy Manson (School of Kinesiology) on being the inaugural recipients of the 2018 President’s Staff Award for Wellbeing. On October 18, they received their awards at a special reception held at Norman McKenzie House.
Recognizing the important role faculty and staff play in promoting workplace health, a new wellbeing category was added to the President’s Staff Awards for 2018. The award recognizes individuals and teams that create opportunities for others to thrive at UBC: from leading activities and initiatives that promote social, physical and/or mental health and wellbeing, to inspiring community members to care for themselves and each other.
“A great inspiration”
At UBC Press, Derick Chan (Finance Assistant), Liz Hudson (Inventory Manager), Harmony Johnson (Academic Sales Manager), and Alexa Love (Advertising and Promotions Manager) go above and beyond to promote social, physical and mental health and wellbeing for staff – from leading their local health and safety committee to encouraging colleagues to participate in the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge and Sports Day.
Derick, Liz, Harmony and Alexa are also community builders and champions, organizing presentations to increase awareness of health and wellbeing resources at UBC, such as the Employee and Family Assistance Program, Ergonomics program, and Risk Management Services. They organize healthy potluck lunches – not only to encourage others to recognize that healthy options are achievable, but also to build community and connections across the three units within UBC Press. Recently, the group secured a grant for an office bike to encourage on-campus active transportation and exercise. To ensure the initiative was inclusive for riders of all skill levels, the group provided a workshop on road safety and basic bike mechanics.
“They are a great inspiration to the staff at UBC Press,” says Kerry Kilmartin, Publicist and Events Manager at UBC Press. “They have worked together to provide interesting opportunities to learn about health and they have promoted the existing UBC wellness activities already available to their colleagues. Above all though, they have worked to make the UBC Press a great and healthy place to work.”
“She enriches the UBC experience for all”
In the School of Kinesiology (KIN), Kathy Manson is the Executive Coordinator & Program Administrator, but to the students, faculty and staff she interacts with every day, Kathy is a role model, a “coach”, the “head and heart” for many in the department.
As the ‘go-to’ person in KIN, Kathy helps others overcome obstacles with empathy and compassion. Whether advocating for diverse faculty voices to be heard or providing encouragement to students, Kathy’s collaborative approach inspires others to care for themselves and each other in the workplace.
“Navigating through graduate school and postdoctoral fellowships can be like a modern pentathlon,” notes Sarah Koch, Erica Bennett and Anne Lasinsky, members of the team that nominated Kathy for the Wellbeing Award. “In Kinesiology research, we often examine the ways in which coaches guide athletes to their maximal athletic capacities. Just like a coach, Kathy assists all of us to achieve our best performances when it counts the most… Kathy not only embodies the mission and vision of KIN, but also exemplifies many of the qualities that UBC aims to impart on its university family.”
Kathy is seen as a role model for how she integrates physical activity throughout her work day, her participation in the School’s outreach programs (BodyWorks Fitness Centre), and her involvement in community-based activities. Kathy invites all students, faculty and staff to participate with her, regardless of their skill or fitness level.
“On a daily basis, Kathy embodies the head and the heart of the School of Kinesiology,” says Patricia Vertinsky, Distinguished University Scholar & Professor in KIN. “From the moment she arrives on her bicycle after riding across town through rain, snow or sun, to the end of the day…she lends an intelligent and supportive hand with a smile and constant encouragement. That’s the kind of dynamic and gracious leadership that enhances the UBC experience, all the time, and for all of us in the School of Kinesiology.”
Tell us how you thrive
Photos: Paul Joseph
By Melissa Lafrance on August 7, 2018
This month, we share the results of our popular Stair Challenge, an annual health and wellbeing initiative that encourages UBC staff and faculty to use stair climbing to boost their cardiovascular health and build strength.
The 2018 Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge achieved a high water mark this year with a record turnout of participants. For four weeks (May 28 to June 22), over 490 staff, faculty and postdoctoral fellows took steps to climb their way to better health. The annual initiative is organized by UBC Human Resources’ Health Promotions team and offers a fun, easy, inclusive and accessible way for UBC employees to take an active role in enhancing their overall health and wellbeing. As individuals or in teams, participants can take the stairs, gain elevation by hiking, or stay active on stair climbers. For non-stair climbers, there is the option of walking or tracking wheelchair distances. Weekly and top performing prizes are awarded during and at the end of the challenge.
This year’s Stair Challenge had UBC employees stepping up from across the university, from Point Grey, the Okanagan and Robson Square to the hospital sites at VGH/DHCC, St. Paul’s, BC Women’s and Children’s. Collectively, they climbed 547,748 metres – the equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest 65 times!
The effort, enthusiasm and level of engagement was high throughout the challenge. Participants not only achieved astounding altitudes, but they also reported being more active at work and outside of work through social connections. In a post-challenge survey, the majority of participants reported that their top motivations were to improve their physical fitness and increase the incentive to take active breaks during their work day. 96% of participants agreed that the challenge contributed to their overall wellbeing.
“It’s one of many fantastic motivators to be more active,” said one challenge participant in their survey response. “It inspired me to finally try going up Grouse Mountain…it was something to keep in mind when I stood waiting for an elevator…I really value this incentive to keep moving.”
Participants found creative ways to motivate themselves and others, including organizing active breaks, sending daily email encouragement and posting funny posters to liven up stairwells. For UBC Vancouver’s Brock Warriors, one of this year’s top performing teams (averaging 1,172 flights per person), they stayed motivated by participating as a group and accomplishing shorter bursts of activities. In particular, team members Ritu Dabla, Laurie Dawson and Janice McGill enjoyed the social aspect of the challenge and felt it enhanced their friendships:
“The most interesting part was how [we] felt engaged and connected to the larger UBC community…It led to better physical fitness, social connections and enhanced [our] mental health and wellbeing.”
UBC Okanagan’s Heather Bradshaw (Centre for Teaching & Learning) was the top performing individual this year, achieving a total of 2,966 flights. She challenged herself by setting her eyes on the highest virtual peak – Mt. Everest. Heather did not have teammates to stay accountable to, but that did not stop her:
“I was motivated by trying different methods of reaching daily and weekly goals. I climbed the stairs to the 9th floor of my condo building five times as a morning routine and took breaks during my work day by going up and down the building stairs.”
The Next Challenge
For the UBC HR Health Promotions team of Miranda Massie and Melissa Lafrance, they are already looking ahead to the future:
“We appreciate all the valuable comments, feedback and suggestions we’ve received,” said Lafrance. “They will help us make the annual Stair Challenge even better next year.”
Massie added, “Thanks to our generous corporate discount partners for donating prizes, but most of all, thank you to each and every participant. You embody the spirit of what the Stair Challenge is all about – inspiring and supporting your personal, physical and social health and wellbeing. Melissa and I hope to see you all back next year, and we hope you’ll encourage new colleagues to join the fun!”
For More Information
Visit the Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge page for photos submitted by 2018 participants. For upcoming health and wellbeing events and initiatives, visit our Events & Workshops page and stay tuned through Healthy UBC.
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
Posted in Information Update, Physical Health, Thriving Campus | Tagged 2018, challenge, Peak performance, physical activity, Pick your Peak, Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge, stair challenge, stair climbing, UBC, winners | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on June 5, 2018
This month we feature Janet Gannon from UBC’s Sauder School of Business as our Thriving Campus profile.
How do you thrive at work?
I am in awe of the physical beauty of our workplace: forest, ocean, mountain views, and the perfume of spring flowers. When I make my way to the office, with each step, I take it all in and this helps me prepare for my workday.
In my job, every day is a learning day and I thrive on the variety and challenges that each workday brings. Creating positive relationships with colleagues, faculty members and students across campus is a top priority. I am truly grateful to be surrounded by highly supportive individuals.
I am also very lucky to have an office with a window that opens (so important) with great views of the mountains and English Bay. My lunch hour is sacred. It is my time to reset, re-energize, refuel: walking lunches to the Nitobe and Botanical Gardens, visits to the Museum of Anthropology and Belkin Art Gallery, concerts at the Faculty of Music, ocean swims…Lunch hour “away time” from my desk is an investment in my wellbeing.
How do you thrive at home?
I choose to have a simple lifestyle and consecrate my spare time to my favourite activities. My passion for travel gets me out of my comfort zone and helps cultivate resilience and creativity. Going on weekend solo trips to Asia and Europe with no set itinerary is my oxygen: to simply wander different neighbourhoods and be immersed in a different language, culture, and cuisine. Ocean swimming with seals and cormorants, herons and bald eagles overhead and mountains as backdrop at sunset is simply amazing — another great investment in my wellbeing. Going for long walks enables me to slow down and quiet the mind. Exploring neighbourhoods with family and friends is a great bonding experience and something I truly enjoy.
Janet Gannon is a staff member at the UBC Sauder School of Business (27 years and counting). She has a degree in French and spent a year at l’Universite d’Aix-Marseille in Provence, France. She is married with two adult children. She and her husband are French car enthusiasts. Janet is continually on the lookout for her next adventure. Nolite timere (be fearless)!
Photo Credit: Erica Hill
By Miranda Massie on March 7, 2018
UBC’s favourite departmental funding program is back! Applications are now being accepted for the Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program (HWIP).
In support of UBC departments and units that are interested in promoting wellbeing in the workplace, the HWIP provides start-up funds for health-related activities. The program has previously funded grassroots initiatives such as yoga classes, health challenges, mental health training and creative activities.
In 2017, the HWIP funded the following in Vancouver and the Okanagan:
- Seven bike share programs
- Six fitness classes
- Six health challenges
- Four patio gardens
- Two mental health programs
- Two arts-based projects
- 12 innovative new ideas
Do you and your colleagues have a great idea for boosting the health and wellbeing of your team? Need a little financial assistance to supplement department resources? Consider applying today. Deadline for applications is April 18, 2018.
Full details, including regulations, funding toolkits and application forms can be found on the HWIP page.
By Melissa Lafrance on March 7, 2018
This month we feature Steve Bohnen, UBC Campus Security Crime Prevention & Community Relations Officer as our Thriving Campus feature.
How do you thrive at work?
I love our UBC environment and believe most people who work here strongly desire to establish a ‘higher and better social contract’ within this community. My role at Campus Security allows me to contribute to that mission, and I’m superbly grateful for it. The endless flow and variety of our challenges exercise my talents, skills and training daily. I enjoy a great balance of responding to real-time calls for assistance and assessing/analyzing occurrence patterns to promote better outcomes for both the University and the greater community. It’s a wonderful balance of challenges and creative opportunities.
I couldn’t do this work without respectful, highly supportive and like-minded colleagues who realize that we bring our total selves to the workplace every day, and understand that we must engage fully with one another to be most effective as a workgroup. We share our challenges, use check-ins regularly and maintain ongoing training and certification to stay at the top of our game.
How do you thrive at home?
Music has been a lifelong passion for me (yes, guitar players are actually considered musicians) and playing, whether alone or with others, has provided amazing rewards in relaxation, problem solving, left/right brain balance and just plain joy.
I’ve been playing since 1965, and am regularly privileged to sit in sessions with four or five people who bring 200+ years’ worth of talent and experience to the room. These moments transcend language and are a gift I wish everyone could experience. I encourage everyone to find their creative passion or instrument and get into the flow with it regularly. I play daily and wouldn’t be without it. This is Your Brain on Music is highly recommended reading.
I’ve been blessed with a superb partner in my wife Mary, a social services professional who brings a balance of compassion and deep expertise in her field to our family and our marriage. She’s an absolute champion and my best friend.
In three words or less, what does Wellbeing mean to you?
Fully, peacefully energized.
Steve Bohnen has worked at UBC Campus Security for 23 years. He is a certified BCSSA Security Consultant and Advanced Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) practitioner. Steve studied Arts at UBC from 1966 to 1968, left the Lower Mainland for work on the BC North Coast and later returned to UBC in 1986 after widely varied work and life experiences in several parts of the province, including Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. He has been married for 38 years and has four children, one of whom graduated with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from UBC. His passions are his family, his work, music and the outdoors.
Photo Credit: Don Erhardt
By Melissa Lafrance on January 11, 2018
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month we feature Liz Hudson, inventory manager at UBC Press.
Thriving at Work
My first secret to thriving at work is my daily bike commute. My bike commute clears my head in the morning and gets oxygen to my brain [so I’m] ready for a day of work; then it clears my head at the end of the day before my evening activities at home.
Second, I thrive because I love to learn and connect with others. At UBC we have so many opportunities to do activities, interact with others and learn new things. Either with office mates or solo, I’ve participated in a multitude of activities on campus including mindfulness training, tennis lessons, Pick your Peak Stair Challenge, Museum of Anthropology’s yoga classes (MOGA) the UBC Library/United Way Spelling Bee, Staff & Faculty Sports Day, Recess for Adults, Bike to Work Week and Toastmasters — and this is a curated list. With each activity, I’m grateful to work in a place that offers this wide range of activities.
I’m also really grateful for an office environment that is positive and supportive. Within the UBC Press office, we do regular clothing exchanges and potlucks. Each event that UBC offers or that our office organizes makes me feel part of a community and that, for me, is the key to thriving.
Thriving at Home
I thrive at home by maintaining a positive attitude and making my health a priority. I play on a soccer team and hockey team, and I enjoy playing tennis. Belonging to a team is the perfect activity: it satisfies my need for social interaction and physical exercise. I’m also an avid cook and love to try new healthy recipes (and some unhealthy ones!)
I also do volunteer work as a member of the Hockey Helps the Homeless committee here in Vancouver. I’ve coached my daughter’s soccer team and was manager of her soccer teams over the years. Similar to my work environment, I thrive at home by building a community of like-minded people and appreciating all that I have.
Liz Hudson works at UBC Press in the marketing department. She feels lucky to have landed a job at UBC Press after many years selling textbooks to universities across western Canada. With a degree in French and English from Western University, Liz previously taught high school French in Ontario and Alberta before moving westward and settling in Vancouver. Liz has a husband, two kids in elementary school and a few fish. Liz enjoys playing sports, hanging out with her family and hosting dinner parties with friends.
Photo credit: Liz Hudson
By Guest Contributor on October 25, 2017
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month we feature the staff at ICORD, an interdisciplinary research centre focused on spinal cord injury at Vancouver General Hospital.
In 2010, ICORD received a Healthy Workplace Initiatives grant and implemented a program that is still going strong seven years later. Read on to learn how the program has impacted their workplace and their staff.
Guest contribution by Cheryl Niamath, Communications + Administrative Manager at ICORD.
How would you describe your program?
We offer twice-weekly, lunchtime fitness classes taught by professional instructors. The classes are open to anyone who wants to participate, including faculty, staff and students based in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (BSCC); people who work in nearby hospital buildings; or those who live or work in the neighbourhood or are coming to the BSCC for other reasons.
We started these classes in 2010 when ICORD won a UBC Healthy Workplace Initiative grant (now called Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program). We used the grant to fund a pilot program, hiring an instructor and purchasing some yoga mats and blocks. People loved the classes, so once the grant funding was used up, we continued — with the instructors’ fees being covered by class participants. We charge a very low, tiered-payment rate: enough to keep participant costs reasonable and cover the instructors’ fees, plus a bit extra for occasionally replacing equipment.
Originally, we called the classes “yogalates” because they were a combination of yoga and Pilates. Over time the classes have changed a little with the instructors, but have remained mat-based. We don’t jump around and get so sweaty that we need a shower afterwards, which is good for a lunchtime thing.
Participants come and go, but we still have a few people who’ve been in the program since the very beginning.
What do you see or hear is the greatest benefit for participants of the program?
Here are some comments from class participants:
“I’ve been taking these classes twice a week since they started. I love the positive peer pressure that makes me go, even if I don’t really feel like it. I feel stronger and more balanced, and always leave class feeling happy and energized.”
“The quality and regularity of classes has made an enormous difference to my overall health. I have no chronic issues or repetitive strain injuries that I think normally I should have by now (at 48 years old, working in a desk job) and I really do credit the bi-weekly yogalates classes!“
“There were numerous benefits to me as a participant over the two-and-a-half years that I attended. Getting out of the ward in the middle of the day helped clear my brain; it made me much better when I returned to work. Moving my body at lunch was very good from a therapeutic point of view. Learning about Pilates and how my body moves helped my physiotherapy practice when I was moving my patient’s bodies and teaching them how to move. I learned that I love Pilates. It makes so much sense to me. I became much fitter and have been able to continue Pilates in the community, as I am no longer near enough to continue at ICORD. Lastly, I had ongoing right sacroiliac joint issues, which totally disappeared once I started the Pilates sessions at ICORD. They never returned!”
What kind of work and support does it take to maintain the program’s sustainability?
The program is not cumbersome to sustain. We run quarterly sessions, 15-17 weeks long. About a month before the current quarter ends, I confirm the instructors for the next session. Then I send an email to all current participants, advertise on display screens in our building, put up posters, and keep track of people who’ve signed up. When the new session starts, I collect participant payments, and our finance assistant does a bank deposit. She also processes monthly invoices from our instructors. We probably spend less than two hours a month maintaining the program.
Here’s an example of how we advertise the classes in our building-wide weekly newsletter:
If you could provide advice to other individuals or departments/units interested in starting up a grassroots healthy initiative, what would it be?
Find out what types of programs people want to do (and are willing to commit to) before trying to organize anything. Then, start with pilot projects to see if there’s interest before committing a lot of resources. Apply for a Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program grant or ask your department for shared funding support for the pilot.
What are the main reasons your program has been successful and are there any lessons you have learned?
I think our program has been so successful for several reasons. We’ve had such great instructors who have tailored classes to suit participants. The classes are really convenient, the atmosphere is fun and supportive and not too serious, and the cost is quite low compared to similar classes elsewhere.
How do you personally thrive in your life?
I don’t know if I’m thriving or not, but I do try to keep balance in my life. Work takes up a lot of my time, but I do go to these classes at lunch twice a week, as well as playing drop-in soccer with my husband and a great group of people. I have fun with my husband cooking (relatively) healthy meals together. I love to knit, which I find quite meditative, and I try to get outside and enjoy nature as much as I can (unless it’s raining).
ICORD (International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries) is an interdisciplinary research centre focused on spinal cord injury. ICORD researchers are dedicated to the development and translation of more effective strategies to promote prevention, functional recovery, and improved quality of life after spinal cord injury. Located at Vancouver General Hospital in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, ICORD is supported by UBC Faculty of Medicine and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
Photo credit: ICORD
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