An interview with Aidan McGlynn, the Active Campus Coordinator, on this positive partnership.
Earlier this year, we made the decision to embark on an initiative that promotes health, fitness, and wellbeing, with the aim of enhancing not only the wellness of our local talent and students but also the entire community. The VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme was launched in February in partnership with VANRATH and Queen's University, offering multifaceted fitness regimens, taster sessions, and more.
Let's now take a closer look at the remarkable impact it has had so far...
Can you tell us about your role as a VANRATH Active Campus Coordinator and your involvement in the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme?
My role at Queen’s Sport during semester 1 and 2 was Active Campus Coordinator, where I created opportunities for staff, students, and the wider community to be more physically active through a wide range of programs offered across campus. My main responsibility within the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme was to develop a program of activities that were fun, engaging, and diverse, and one that enhances the student experience while on campus.
What are the main goals of the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme and why should people get involved?
The main goal of the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme is to empower you to excel academically and flourish in your future career, and we're enthusiastic about helping you seize every sport and recreational opportunity available. Regardless of your athletic or fitness level, the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme caters to all. Through our Active Fitness, Active Lifestyle, and Active Clubs, there is something for everyone. Whether you're challenging yourself with Couch to 5k or the Queen’s Deep River Rock 5k or engaging in taster sessions hosted by our 55 sports clubs tailored for beginners, rest assured there's something that will resonate with you.
In what ways does the program promote inclusivity and cater to students and those of all abilities?
The VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme aims to promote inclusivity and diversity across all programs. Queen’s University has a diverse student and staff population, and our Active Campus programs actively cater to both staff and students of all abilities in a fun, friendly, and supportive environment.
What are some of the positive impacts from the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme so far?
The VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme has been very well received across campus. This semester we have seen the biggest increase in participation across all our programs. For example, our Couch to 5k program was one of our biggest to date with 65 sign-ups, an increase of 20 from the previous semester. Bigger participation programs such as our student sport football leagues, both the 11-a-side and 5-a-side leagues, now attract over 404 students each week. Another very popular VANRATH Active Lifestyle program this year has been our staff social football.
This program has seen a huge increase in participation, from 8 staff in semester 1 to over 28 in semester 2 - what started as a 4-week program in June has gone above and beyond. Another well-received program is our staff Badminton, originating as a taster session, the response has been great and has evolved into a weekly program, attracting over 20 staff to each session. In our QUB accommodation programs, the Female Only Yoga sessions in semester 2 have seen a substantial increase in participation and this continues to rise. Our YOGA U Roadshow that launched in February was also a huge success, featuring yoga sessions at iconic QUB buildings and drawing a wide audience of both staff and students - the 5 sessions attracted over 115 participants from both staff and student populations.
How does the program contribute to the overall student experience and campus life at Queen's University?
The VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme contributes significantly to the overall student experience and campus life in many ways. Through social engagement and interaction, our programs are designed to be fun, diverse, and focused on creating a friendly community spirit. The student experience is at the heart of what we do. Overall, the program plays a vital role in shaping a well-rounded student experience at Queen’s University, providing students with opportunities for personal growth and overall well-being beyond their academic pursuits.
How does the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme align with the university's focus on student well-being and mental health?
The university highlights the importance of a comprehensive health and well-being strategy within campus life, focusing on leadership, positive culture, diversity, education, support services, and partnerships like the “#QUBeWell” initiative for a healthy campus. The VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme aligns with the university by addressing physical health, stress reduction, and creating a mindfulness community, which contributes to the university’s broader goals of enhancing student and staff well-being and mental health.
One aim of the program was to encourage female students to participate in more fitness and sporting activities. How has this been achieved?
In our VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme, we are committed to promoting and enhancing female participation. We offer specialized programs designed exclusively for females, such as our Female Only Yoga sessions hosted at Elms Village Accommodation. Additionally, we provide diverse dance taster sessions across campus, and we’re excited to introduce our inaugural Female Strength Course at our city center accommodation site.
How does the VANRATH Active Lifestyle Programme complement the academic pursuits of the students and contribute to their future career prospects?
The Active Lifestyle Programme can complement the academic pursuits of students and contribute to their future career prospects in many ways – work-life balance, physical activity, mental health and well-being, and academic performance. The ability to balance studies and sports can also improve time management skills. Fitness boosts your overall health, translating to mental clarity and resilience. A healthy mind and body foster long-lasting healthy habits which are vital for career success.
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