A Northwest Missouri State University student wellness program — the Stress Less Fest — has been awarded the Best Practices in College Health Award by the American College Health Association.
The award recognizes exemplary campus health initiatives related to clinical services, counseling services, administrative and consumer services and health education.
Founded in 2011, the Stress Less Fest takes place near the end of each trimester on the Monday evening of finals week. The goal is to provide students with activities that relieve stress as they prepare for exams.
Northwest Peer Educator Chris Triplett said the December event attracted more than 200 students, who participated in a free raffle and were given finals "survival kits" provided by the Student Senate.
Activities included Zumba dancing, yoga sessions, massages, marshmallow dodge ball and movies. Students also took part in such stress-easing diversions as coloring, finger painting, stress ball making and Lego building.
Tables at the event are laden with T-shirts, snacks, giveaways and information emphasizing the importance of safe driving and adequate sleep. Other materials warn of dangers associated with depression and alcohol and drug abuse.
"The program is very broad and diverse." said Dr. Jerry Wilmes, director of Northwest Wellness Services. "It includes physical activities to help students burn off stress, as well as more quiet, creative, reflective activities. The program also provides opportunities for students to simply turn off for a while."
Wilmes said the event emphasizes coping skills students can use long after their college days are over.
"Education is incorporated into the wide variety of activities to help students not just manage stress better during finals, but throughout their college careers and the rest of their lives," he said.
The spring Stress Less Fest will take place 6-11 p.m. Monday, April 29, at The Station.