By Maggie O’Brien ’17
The second annual Love Your Body Week (LYBW) was held at Merrimack Feb. 13-17, thanks to a generous alumni donation to the Office of Wellness Education.
Erin Kaminski, who received her master’s degree from the college, spearheads the Office of Wellness Education. Highly motivated with a strong willingness to help others make healthy decisions mentally, physically, and spiritually, this is Kaminski’s first LYBW as a Wellness Educator. “Love Your Body Week is a weeklong event, which helps students think about the relationship they have with their body,” Kaminski explained.
To make LYBW happen, Kaminski had assistance from students and support from Hamel Health and Active Minds. According to Kaminski, student Samantha Salem was instrumental in brainstorming fun and informative events for others to enjoy. Passionate about promoting positive body image, Salem was happy to help. “Love Your Body Week is all about celebrating what your body does for you every day. All too often, we complain about and talk down to our bodies for what we believe it lacks or what we wish it looked like. However, this causes us to lose sight of how naturally incredible our bodies are. Every body is beautiful and every body deserves respect.”
According to a Healthy Minds survey given out to Merrimack students, 8% of Merrimack students have struggled with an eating disorder. Because of this, the Office of Wellness Education has been focused on creating an environment in which it is okay to discuss these types of struggles. All of their events primarily focus on bashing stigmas on eating disorders, promoting positive body image, and making healthy and informed decisions.
During LYBW, students and faculty tabled on Main Street to get more students involved. This year, LYBW was comprised of events such as an Eating Disorders Awareness and Appreciation Station, Embodied Paint Workshop, Eating Disorders Awareness and Positivi-TEA, along with Broga (yoga for men) and a handful of guest speakers.
According to student Abbie Smith, the events had great turnouts. “The Embodied Paint Workshop is a great way to bring people together,” said Smith. “It doesn’t matter how talented you are, but what matters is being able to spend some time unwinding in a healthy way.”
A new event introduced speaker Maggie Bertram, a member of the Active Minds organization on campus. The organization hosted her intimate discussion about her struggle with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder where others came to hear her speak.
Along with students, Wellness Peer Educators were also instrumental in making LYBW happen. MaryRose Malian is a current Wellness Peer Educator who contributed to the success of the week-long event. “A wellness peer educator is a student leader who helps and educates his/her peers on the six dimensions of wellness: mental, physical, spiritual, occupational, social, and intellectual. We help students dealing with stress- we want to teach our peers how stress impacts our well-being, and how each dimension of wellness impact the others.”
Malian, who has participated in a number of events, says her favorite LYBW event was finger painting, which took place last year. Although some students have their favorites, Kaminski chooses to change things up with different events each year. For next year’s LYBW, she plans to focus more on eating disorders.
Keep an eye out for more upcoming events from the Office of Wellness Education in the future. Kaminski and her crew of Wellness Peer Educators are often out on Main Street handing out t-shirts and spreading their message of healthy living. Students are also always welcome to reach out to Erin Kaminski for more information or just for support. She is located on the third floor of the Sakowich Campus Center.