The wellness of college students encompasses many aspects of life such as nutrition, exercise, mental health and social life.
Parkhurst Dining, responsible for the student dining experience, hosted the “Well on Your Way” fair to promote healthier habits in Allegheny students from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2 in the lobby of the Henderson Campus Center. With a diverse number of wellness topics, students learned more about what they can do to take care of themselves at the fair.
The fair included tables by organizations from inside and outside the college, each focusing on a different aspect of wellness.
Marketing Coordinator for Parkhurst Dining Daisy McKim explained why Parkhurst decided to have a wellness fair this month.
“March is National Nutrition Month so we wanted to start it off with a band,” McKim said. “Something Parkhurst is really passionate about is health and wellness. We really wanted to highlight physical, social and mental wellness.”
According to McKim, Parkhurst wants students to know that they stand for wellness and wants to show that they love to collaborate with people. Parkhurst also wanted to give organizations centered around different aspects of health a spotlight.
At her table about the student benefits of nutrition, Parkhurst Dietitian Alicia Koloski explained the type of eating she advocates for.
“I am a huge advocate for intuitive eating so I have information on that and gentle nutrition,” Koloski said. “As a dietitian, I would focus more on gentle nutrition as opposed to rules and guidelines. It is a lot more (about) touching base with your intuition and your specific body needs.”
Koloski also explained how gentle nutrition can be easier to implement for college students than a strict diet.
“The hard part about my job is figuring out ways to get people to trust their bodies, so it is going back to body trust, normalizing hunger and not following external factors like rules,” Koloski said. “I want to recommend that students focus on what feels good in their bodies and how it makes them feel.”
According to Koloski, Parkhurst hosts a lot of activities because they believe that food has the potential to bring students together. For example, Parkhurt exposes students to different kinds of foods from different cultures and encourages communal eating.
Member of the Mental Health Awareness Club Conner Mastalerz, ’22, outlined the purpose of MHA’s presence at the fair and how their table supports the mental health of students.
“At this table, people write down an insecurity on a little Post-it note and throw it in the trash can,” Mastalerz said. “Then, they write something good about themselves and hang it up on the wall. Being college students, we are surrounded by stress and we have a lot of stuff going on. It is important to make sure everyone is okay and to check up on friends. It is just important to make sure everyone is in the best state they can be.”
Mastalerz explained that mental health and physical health through nutrition are connected and it is important to eat foods that make the body feel good.
“If you eat healthy foods, your body will get the right nutrition and feel better which will make you feel better mentally,” Mastalerz said. “Hopefully students can gain more awareness about eating healthier and becoming more aware of their social and mental health.”
Owner of Emphico Studio Martina Hajnova came to Allegheny to show students a different way to exercise. In order to encourage students to continue practicing what they learned, Hajnoa provided a 50% off coupon for a class at the fitness studio on a later date.
“The ‘Pound Workout’ is a really holistic approach, not just for a healthy lifestyle to working out, but also to mindfulness and mental health,” Hajnova said. “I am hoping to introduce them to something they can hang on to and experience and to change their lives. I have seen how Pound changes so many of my customers. I have seen really shy people from the back row getting more confident.”
McKenna Manderine, ’25, reflected on her experience with the fair and especially the Pound workout she chose to participate in.
“I had been stressed and I thought the workout would relieve the stress,” Mandarin said. “I felt a little bit giggly after because I felt like I had made a fool of myself but I was happy. I think the fair benefits students who participate in it. I know a ton of people probably just walk past it but me and my friends had a lot of fun.”
McKim summarized that the core message of the fair is to promote all aspects of health and emphasize the importance of them.
“We really believe social, mental and physical health are the pillars of wellness,” McKim said.