As the new dean of Wellness at Ross School, Cathy Yun is leading and designing the School’s wellness education program. In this post, she talks with School News about her approach to helping students develop their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Describe your role at Ross.
My role at Ross is to design and implement a Wellness curriculum that engages students in becoming informed and compassionate caretakers of themselves and others.
What are the main areas of your focus?
For many years, I have been interested in defining well-being for young people. Wellness within a more traditional Western sense tended to focus mainly on physical fitness and nutrition, which I agree are important, but they are only two pieces within a very complex system. I echo Ross School’s focus on the whole child and adopt the school’s philosophy in seeing an individual’s wellness individual from multiple dimensions, such as social and emotional well-being, self-knowledge (knowing thyself), and compassion (serving others). Within this approach also lies the potential to integrate contemplative and reflective practices in our students’ learning experiences, both within the Wellness programs and across disciplines.
What types of Wellness classes are offered at Ross?
There are about 50 classes offered during the academic year, and we strive to create a balance between Eastern and Western wellness practices with course such as Yoga, Mindfulness in Movement, Energy Anatomy, Strength and Conditioning, and classes that incorporate circuit training and a variety of competitive sports-based activities.
In Wellness classes, we also encourage students to integrate their awareness of the social and emotional context of their environment with respect to both themselves and others.
What brought you to Ross?
After working with students from many different social and cultural backgrounds, I have come to realize that young people, regardless of their background, need a strong support system for their development as healthy, resilient, and caring individuals. Needless to say, each student has an intrinsic capacity to learn, grow, and develop—with certain abilities being more visible and understood than others. They are also going through some of the most profound changes in their lives, both physiologically and experientially, which can present some difficult challenges that could result in less-than-ideal choices. For instance, unrecognized stress and anxiety related to academic performance could lead to insomnia and poor eating habits, which could can in turn set off a cycle of other unhealthy choices. I find wellness education quite vital to the education of young people, and Ross School clearly understands that with its long-standing Wellness program as a curricular domain, not as an offshoot of health services or an athletic program, as it is practiced in many schools across the country. That’s why I decided to come to Ross School, and I am very happy with my choice!
The Ross School’s approach to education and well-being is a great opportunity to build a Wellness program to specifically benefit our diverse, multicultural, and international environment.