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UW Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center Receives National Award

February 12, 2018
woman standing with a basket of fruit
Lauren Schiller, an Exercise is Medicine graduate assistant, passes out fruit during one of the UW Wellness Center’s ongoing programs. The center recently received national recognition for innovative approaches and promoting student well-being. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center recently won the NASPA Excellence Gold Award for innovative approaches and promoting student well-being.

Wellness Center staff will attend the annual NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) conference in Philadelphia, Pa., March 3-7 to receive an award in the category for athletics, recreation, physical fitness and nonvarsity sports. The center’s staff will receive its award and recognition, and also will present a poster for the conference.

“I am thrilled to have the Wellness Center receive this award, and am grateful for the administrative and campus support we have had to create and develop this program,” says Lena Newlin, Wellness Center assistant director. “The connection between student success and well-being is critical, and receiving this award is an affirmation that we need to continue to support students and the university community in establishing and promoting a campus culture of wellness.”

The UW Wellness Center opened in November 2015, following a two-year renovation and expansion project of the UW Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center. Located in the southwest part of Half Acre in the “free zone,” which requires no gym membership to access, the center is open to students and members of the university community.

“I think what helped us win is our focus is on promoting more than physical wellness,” Newlin says. “We try to create an environment that supports students and the university community in being holistically well -- emotionally, socially, financially, etc.”

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. The association’s work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries and eight U.S. territories.

This year will be the 100th anniversary of the NASPA conference, which is a global gathering of student affairs educators who are passionate about critical higher education issues.

In its application for the NASPA Excellence Award, the Wellness Center staff explained the need to build more than a gym. The center then related the students’ learning, success, involvement, inclusion and collaboration, and also many other factors that were included in the judging criteria for the award.

With an emphasis on primary prevention and education, the Wellness Center focuses educational programs and services on 10 areas: academic impacts; alcohol and other drug abuse; general health; mental health; nutrition; physical activity and fitness; safety; sexual health; tobacco use; and occupational and financial wellness.

While the Wellness Center is located in Half Acre, its focus is on more than just physical wellness. The Wellness Center offers a variety of programs and services, including stress management workshops, health assessments and screenings, athletic training, cooking classes and nutrition seminars, faculty and staff adult wellness, health education workshops, educational materials and health promotion supplies.

Most services in the Wellness Center are free; however, personal training, massage therapy and rental of chair massage services have fees.

For more information about the Wellness Center, visit, like the center on Facebook, or follow on Instagram @uwwellness.

To view Wellness Center events throughout the year, go to WyoCal, UW’s online calendar, at

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