Tony Manful stands in front of a brick wall covered in graffiti, wearing a knit beanie and wire rimmed glasses. He is smiling

Humber College plans to have the healthiest campus in Canada. A Healthy and Inclusive Community is a pillar of the college’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan

A new wellness initiative is underway, and this time, students are taking the lead as part of a capstone project. 

The inaugural cohort of Bachelor of Sciences – Workplace Health and Wellness students recently assessed the health and wellness professors in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness

“I was thinking about how best to support faculty,” said Amanda Baskwill,  associate dean of Allied Health. 

“We have this group of people whose entire education is to assess the needs of individuals in a workplace and work with them to put together a plan to assist them,” said Baskwill. 

She pitched the project, and it was accepted, then presented to students. 

Last semester, nine groups each surveyed, assessed and created plans for instructors in various academic programs. 

According to Baskwill and program coordinator Erin Mandel-Shorser, the project has college-wide potential. 

“Our health and wellness matter to our upper management,” said Mandel-Shorser. 

“It could extend to the six different faculties and other divisions at Humber.” 

Mandel-Shorser has followed the students throughout their program and had a good idea of their capabilities, but still, they surprised her. 

“They have surpassed my expectations of what they could come up with.” 

Theory meets hands-on practice 

Students completed pieces of this process in previous courses throughout their degree, but this time, they’re going through all the steps at once. 

“We basically created a mock business scenario in the safety of a classroom,” said Mandel-Shorser. Program coordinator Erin Mandel-Shorser smiles in a headshot, wearing a collared shirt and green sweater in front of a white wal

“We’re modelling going into a company and starting at ground zero.” 

The capstone project is a work-integrated learning experience completed in a safe space, supported by instructors. 

The hands-on nature of polytechnic education combined with the theoretical learning of a degree is a big draw to the program.  

“It was a different take on occupational health,” said third-year student Tony Manful. 

“We learn how to really be there for the employee. It incorporates WHMIS and safety sheets, but there’s a big focus on employee wellness.” 

Manful worked with Bianca Garcia and Aubrey Benjamin to assess and treat the faculty in the Health Sector Regulatory Compliance graduate certificate program. 

“We had one-on-one sessions with each professor, did debriefings, talked to them about their backgrounds and what they struggled with. We also determined what they want to achieve,” he said. 

The trio created a collaborative, multidisciplinary plan that allows professors to benefit from the expertise of students in various programs, including the Wellness Coaching and Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Promotion programs. 

“When we spoke to faculty, they talked about a need for exercises, specifically yoga. Others wanted to focus on cardio and nutrition,” said Manful. 

“We decided to create a resource page that the instructors can access.” 

The students from the faculty will post to the page and apply what they’ve learned in their respective programs. 

For example, Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Management students will upload weekly video tutorials on yoga to respond to the needs expressed by the instructors.  

“Students get to do a work placement and get hours towards their credentials to talk about what they’ve learned. They’ll teach professors who don’t have that knowledge. It’s a great way to integrate the faculty and have students like myself put what they’ve learned out there,” said Manful. 

The workplace wellness programs deemed best suited to help the faculty were approved, and those teams will implement their programs throughout the Summer semester. A selection of the remaining projects will be implemented in the coming semesters.