Students learn to find balance at Spring into Your Best Self event


College Nurse Christine Philbrick introduces speaker, Joanna Cielen at Spring into Your Best Self event on March 22.

Learning to eat, sleep, move and think better, to create a positive difference in their lives, was the mission on March 22 as students gathered for the College’s inaugural Spring into Your Best Self event.

Held in the culinary theatre at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, the event was organized by Career Services, Health and Wellness, CSEL, NCSAC and CFWI. Seventy-five students attended the jam-packed event which included learning and fun break out sessions aimed at helping them find balance in their lives.

The evening began with People Bingo, an ice-breaker game that helped students make new friends and connections. The keynote speaker was Joanna Cielen, a registered holistic nutritionist, personal trainer specialist, and a nutrition professor for NC’s School of Academic and Liberal Studies. She shared tips on meditation, mindfulness, and how focusing on eating, sleeping, moving, and thinking can help them through life’s challenges.

Students broke out into three different sessions: meditation yoga (sleep) in The Armoury, a mindfulness doodling activity with NC counselor Michelle MacIntosh, or a walk-through the on-campus Wetland Trail connecting to the beautiful Bruce Trail. Each session focused on a different key pillar for success (eating, sleeping, moving and thinking), and the instructors encouraged students take what they learned and apply it going forward, especially during times which can be stressful such as their exam season.

Cielen tested students’ knowledge of the evening with a Kahoot game, and three lucky winners received prizes donated by CSEL and NCSAC.

One of the highlights of the evening was the special cooking demonstration by culinary student Karan Arora, who volunteered to cook his mother’s vegan pakora recipe and shared his cooking secrets. The rest of the evening’s food was catered by Benchmark Restaurant, and included black dal over saffron rice, quinoa and chickpea salad, vegan brownies and Benchmark iced tea.

The event received positive feedback from students. Lara Carlos, a first-year International Business Management student said she registered the event as soon as she saw the advertisement because she was experiencing stress due to her workload as well as other demands in her life. She sought more time to relax and wanted to learn more about relaxation activities.

“From the beginning the event, I can say that the experience was very transforming … because, for the first time, I had the chance to meditate and understand how this can be a benefit to my life,” she said. “Since the event, I started to meditate every day and I am feeling very good after each meditation.”

Before students left for the evening, they were challenged to set one goal for themselves over the next 30 days that would fall under the move, sleep, eat, or think category. Career consultant Jean Little shared with students that making a change is all about being accountable, and this is the way to do it.

Students who submitted their goals were entered into a draw to win a prize. All guests were added to a ‘Your Best Self’ group on the Get Involved Portal. The College’s Your Best Self team plans to follow up with the group and their goals at the end of April.

Based on student feedback, the College’s Your Best Self team will be working hard to coordinate more activities that focus on the four foundational pillars: eat, sleep, think and move.

-Submitted by Dana Brown, Student Services

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