New weekly programs at KU focus on care and well-being

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Kevin Lee, public engagement director at the Oread Center, attends the introductory session on "Spotlight on Care," on Aug. 28, 2019, in the Weaver Courtyard south of Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd.

Finding ways to incorporate self-care into a hectic daily life was the topic of brainstorming by University of Kansas faculty and students during the first session of a new series called “Spotlight on Care,” which kicked off at The Commons Wednesday.

Following the brainstorming, those in attendance spent about 15 minutes outside being mindful of nature as they quietly explored the Weaver Courtyard, just south of Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd. Emily Ryan, director of The Commons, gave the participants an assignment to determine what feelings were being triggered and what was filling them with awe.

The weekly series will be led by different offices on campus, community organizations or researchers, featuring a different topic related to well-being and care. The plan is to combine the discussion topic with guided practice, similar to the simple stroll through the courtyard.

“We have devoted time to learn a new practice or go through a mindful experience,” Ryan said.

photo by: Kathy Hanks

From left, Yiwen Wu, a University of Kansas graduate student, Emily Ryan, director of The Commons, and Kelly Overstreet, a graduate research assistant, participate in a new wellness initiative on Aug. 28, 2019, in the Weaver Courtyard south of Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd.

The sessions are at noon on Wednesdays and run through Dec. 11. They will cover such topics as grief, healing and prioritizing self-care.

“It’s an effort to showcase the research on campus with opportunities for practice,” Ryan said. “By combining research and practice, we hope to demonstrate the importance and priority placed on topics of care across roles and interests at the university and, through opening these conversations, draw focus to the care we give ourselves and the way we show up for others.”

Emma Scioli, a professor with KU’s Department of Classics, attended the first session because she was interested in tools to better work with her students. In the past 15 years, Scioli said, she has observed an increase in mental health issues with students, including stress, depression and alienation. She thought attending the sessions would help her to better help them.

The series is a collaborative effort between The Commons and the Center for Compassionate and Sustainable Communities as well as other KU partners.

“Faculty and students research big issues, and self-care should be part of that,” said Kelly Overstreet, a graduate research assistant who is involved with the series.

During an upcoming session on Sept. 25, Yiwen Wu, a graduate student, will be presenting from his research on the topic of empathy and the internet, including ways in which the internet can be used to spread empathy, build communities and increase care in the face of disaster, Ryan said.

The events are held in The Commons and are free and open to the public.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.