Wellness Peer Educators help students return to ‘normal’ life after pandemic

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Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebholz@mu.edu

As the spring 2021 semester has progressed, students have slowly but surely been able to get back to a “normal” life at Marquette. Organizations like the Wellness Peer Educators have done their part in helping students assimilate through a mixture of online and in-person informational events.

The organization, which looks to promote and provide a campus climate that is centered around holistic wellness, has held numerous in-person events this year. In addition, they provide students with informational online meetings that look to value and empower each student on campus.

Melissa Variny, a junior in the College of Business Administration, has been a part of the Wellness Peer Educators since August 2020. Variny said curating programs in order to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse on campus is the main focus of the organization.

Variny feels as if her job as a Wellness Peer Educator has only gained importance due to the pandemic. With anxiety, depression and substance abuse all on the rise for adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is a large rise in demand for mental health services in the United States. link where you got this info

“Our organization does so much more than just speak about drug abuse, sexual violence and alcohol abuse,” said Variny. “We also emphasize and talk about overall wellness and how to better yourself holistically.”

Variny also said that she wishes more people knew about their wellness coaching opportunities. These free sessions pair students with Wellness Coaches based on a preceding strengths test.

Variny said students can meet with coaches every two to three weeks and can get help to set up goals and provide students with resources and guidance without intimidation.

Variny has also led, organized and participated in numerous peer educator events involving information on drug abuse, among other topics. Although these informational game nights are done completed for the semester, attending these sessions next year can yield prizes such as gift cards, LED strips and more.

Joey Sullivan, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, has attended numerous bingo events hosted by the organization. He said these bingo nights were inviting, fun and informative.

“The events were a great time to take a break from everything and win some great prizes too,” Sullivan said. “The Peer Wellness Educators always make sure to keep things fun, yet informative. They keep things fresh.”

Sullivan also said that they were incredibly cognizant on social distancing guidelines and general COVID-19 safety.

“I definitely look forward to next year when I am able to meet with more of my peers face to face,” Sullivan said “As more people get vaccinated I think we will be able to make more and more connections”

The Wellness Peer Educators have plenty of in-person events to finish off the school year as well. This includes a “Healthy Masculinity” table event in SHAMU (the space between Schroeder Hall and the Alumni Memorial Union from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27.

There will also be another event April 28 called “Denim Day,” a day that takes place on the last Wednesday of April to riase awarness surrounding sexual assault. Set up Tabling will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in SHAMU and the Central Mall. 

Alana Lapitan, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of Occupational Therapy Club, said that she has no issues participating in any events on campus.

“Everything I have done so far has felt incredibly safe. Everyone, whether tabling or hosting an event, has been sure to keep their distance,” Lapitan said.

This story was written by Finn Askin. He can be reached at finn.askin@marquette.edu.