On National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, Wellesley Celebrates Healthy Choices and a Spectacular Sports Play

September 27, 2017
Volleyball setter Michelle Li '19 with a "kick save"

Today is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, celebrated the third Wednesday in September each year. The goal of the event, started in 2001 by the National Health Information Center (NHIC), is to encourage women to take control of their health and to make time for regular physical activity.

Here at Wellesley, women’s health and fitness are emphasized every day, in a variety of ways.

The Wellesley College Health Service (WCHS), for example, provides services such as primary care, allergy immunotherapy, immunizations, health education, and nutritional counseling. It also works to support the College’s educational mission, said Vanessa Britto, medical director of WCHS, by connecting optimal well-being to personal and academic growth. “Our goal is to empower all students to make informed, healthy life choices,” she said. “We want to help them prevent disease and injury, manage chronic illness or disability, and develop effective self-advocacy tools as they invest in a lifelong pursuit of wellness.”

Wellesley’s Stone Center Counseling Service provides mental health services, including individual and group counseling, and along with WCHS supports peer health education groups on campus to ensure that students are well equipped to help their peers develop strong self-care practices.

Both WCHS and the Stone Center are part of Wellesley’s Wellness Outreach Collaborative, which brings together representatives from across campus to meet the diverse and evolving needs of Wellesley students by fostering a total learning environment that inspires them to cultivate lifelong habits of wellness.  

“The Wellness Outreach Collaborative was formed in recognition that supporting student well-being is everyone’s work in this community,” said Claudia Trevor-Wright, assistant director of health education and wellness at WCHS. “Whether we are providing flu shots or bringing therapy dogs to campus, we are dedicated to ensuring students take the time to care for themselves regardless of how busy their day-to-day lives are.”

Wellesley is committed to promoting exercise as well—in fact, physical education is one of three degree requirements. The Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics (PERA) offers 45 courses that range from sailing to Indian Kathak dance to tai chi to triathlon training. Some popular courses, such as Zumba, yoga, Pilates, and Couch to 5K, have sections for first-year students only; these are designed to help ease the transition to college life by creating small, supportive groups in which participants interact with one another.

“We want students to find an activity they can enjoy for a lifetime,” said Lauren Haynie, senior associate director of athletics and PERA. “Physical activity is an important component in promoting overall health and well-being. Whether you are running on the treadmill, learning a new skill or activity, playing a competitive sport, or taking a walk by the lake, being active enhances the balance and quality of your life.”

Additionally, PERA offers a Recreation Program, which includes a variety of club and intramural sports, such as ultimate Frisbee and soccer, and many leisure activities—swimming in the Chandler pool; kayaking, canoeing, and sailing through the Butler Boathouse; a running community for runners (and walkers) of all abilities; a climbing wall in the Dorothy Towne Fieldhouse; and numerous special events, including sunset yoga at the Butler Boathouse and the upcoming Full Moon Paddle on Lake Waban.

PERA also supports 13 intercollegiate teams, enabling student-athletes to continue developing their athletic skills and leadership abilities, both of which contribute to overall well-being.

Recently, the Blue volleyball team was featured in an espnW top play because of the impressive kick save (pictured above) made by setter Michelle Li ’19 during the Blue’s first home match of the year, against Mount Holyoke College on September 16. That play helped Wellesley win 3 games to 1, and Li dished out 26 assists to 11 different hitters.

The video of that save was at No. 4 on last week’s espnW’s Top 10 and was also the No. 6 play on last week’s NCAA Top 10.

On September 23, Li recorded her 2,000th career assist on the match-clinching point as Wellesley College volleyball defeated Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 3-1. Two days later, she was named the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) offensive player of the week, while teammate Samantha Hoang ’19 was named the NEWMAC defensive player of the week.