University of Calgary

University launches innovative UCalgaryStrong initiative to support student wellness, leadership and engagement

Submitted by darmstro on Fri, 2014-09-05 11:51.

Gift of $5 million will help develop a resilient and caring community

Sept. 5, 2014

Recognizing an important need and touched by the tragedy in Brentwood that claimed five young lives, an anonymous family of community leaders has given $5 million to the University of Calgary to launch UCalgaryStrong, an initiative to foster the development of young people across all aspects of their well-being, from orientation week to convocation.

One of the most comprehensive programs of its kind at a Canadian university, UCalgaryStrong integrates elements of student personal wellness, leadership and engagement. The initiative enhances the many student programs already available at the University of Calgary that assist students in navigating the transition to post-secondary education and be successful in their studies. In particular, UCalgaryStrong will help foster resiliency by enabling students to identify their unique talents and strengths as well as empowering them to seek out help when needed.

President Elizabeth Cannon encouraged students to embrace this opportunity and seek out the UCalgaryStrong programs to nurture their development as outstanding community leaders.

"This generous gift provides a major boost to the University of Calgary's extensive student programming and builds on the work we have been doing to support student wellness," said Cannon. "It allows us to offer a truly holistic student experience, linking community engagement, leadership development and personal wellness."

The UCalgaryStrong initiative will include free access to an online assessment tool called StrengthsQuest, leadership advising and strengths assessment workshops every week during the academic year, workshops in the SU Wellness Centre, bystander intervention training, and a UCalgaryStrong festival in April.

StrengthsQuest helps students identify their top-five strengths and how they can be used in different areas of life. In understanding their inherent strengths, each student will have a greater understanding of themselves as well as their classmates - fostering greater connection and compassion amongst students. Gallup's StrengthsQuest is currently used by more than 1.8 million students at more than 600 schools and universities in North America.

Fourth-year Schulich School of Engineering student Brayden Kooistra, an Orientation Week leader, has completed a StrengthsQuest assessment and said it was an insightful exercise that gave him new perspective on his talents.

"Learning more about my own strengths has helped me better understand myself and I hope other students will participate as well," said Kooistra. "University life can be stressful and students don't often realize how many resources are available to them across the university to succeed and grow."

This new funding will also allow the expansion of the Leadership Advising Program, where more than 300 returning Orientation leaders and campus advisors will be trained to help students explore how their individual strengths relate to relationships, academics, teamwork and career development.

The UCalgaryStrong initiative was launched this week as the University of Calgary welcomed nearly 5,000 new undergraduate and graduate students as part of Orientation Week activities.