All are invited to an open house for the Westlawn Open Wellness (WOW) Room (2116 Westlawn), being held on Thursday, July 14, from 6:30 am to 6 pm. Refreshments will be provided throughout the day and attendees will be able to tour the space. Attendees can also obtain a raffle ticket in which the winner will receive a free meal at a Science Thursday food truck.
The WOW Room is a collaboration between the Carver College of Medicine and the UI liveWELL program. It has been a “passion project,” conceived and directed by Jennifer Streeter, MD, PhD, associate in Cardiovascular Medicine and recent graduate of the Physician Scientist Training Pathway. (Read our interview with Streeter in January 2018.)
“This space grew out of a desire for me to engage in practices that would make me physically and mentally healthier,” Streeter said, “but I didn’t have a place to do any of the things that would help me achieve those goals.” Streeter continued:
Throughout my training I have shared workspaces with many other people. I think that’s the case for most employees and trainees at UIHC. When you share a workspace, it’s challenging to try to meditate when there’s somebody sitting a couple feet away. It’s not practical to start doing yoga or push-ups or sit-ups in a work setting. I wanted a place where anyone could walk in and close the door to be entirely by themselves and participate in practices that enhance their mind and body.
The WOW room would not have been possible without the amazing people at facilities management and the generous people at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and the Wellness Program. The biggest challenge to overcome was finding a space. I was talking to a friend of mine, Courtney Ralph, a Facility Coordinator in Facilities Planning and Management, about how I wished a space like this existed. She used her knowledge and resources and found a room in Westlawn where this space could come to life. She worked tirelessly to do all of the behind-the-scenes work that I didn’t even realize was necessary to coordinate opening a room like this. She successfully recruited the College of Medicine to “house” the room, established the room in the CCOM web-based reservations system, donated plants and décor, and provided access to surplus items to furnish the room. Scott Klemp, the Facilities Coordinator for CCOM, and his wonderful crew not only delivered and installed beautiful cabinets and shelves to house the equipment and decor, but also contributed a gorgeous tapestry created by local artist Jan Friedman to the room. Megan Hammes, Senior Director of UI Wellness and University Human Resources, also played a crucial role by providing funds through a Wellness Grant to purchase a large exercise mat, resistance bands, jump ropes, yoga equipment, and a meditation cushion. My husband, Jason, and my sons, Ivan (12) and Alex (10), helped finish the room by transporting the rest of the furniture, decor, plants, and art. My son Alex even helped paint the room and clean it to get it ready for opening. He also created and donated a painting to the room. He loves the room and is very proud to be a part of its creation.
The room has become a calming, tranquil place filled with plants and beautiful natural light that streams in through two large windows. It is equipped to be used for exercise, yoga/Pilates, meditation, massage (in the heated massage recliner chair), or reading. There is a reading corner and a small library of books that people can read while they’re in the room or borrow and bring back. In the future I hope the uses of the room will evolve and people will find new and creative ways to use the space to achieve whatever brings them health and happiness. It could be used for any number of activities such as hosting a class for painting, dance, or group yoga. The possibilities are only limited to people’s imaginations. Anyone can reserve the room free of cost. The only thing we ask in exchange for use of the room is feedback on it. We want people to let us know if they feel it really improved their mental and/or physical health. We would like to know if there are additional features that people would be interested in and what features people are currently using that we should continue to offer. We are open to any ideas for improving the space. Since it is only a couple minutes’ walk from the hospital, we hope that people will make time in their day to visit and see what it’s like. I think if they’re willing to give it a try they will find that they will have a positive experience that will keep them coming back.
Streeter offered thanks in addition to those named above:
Jenni Yoder, Lisa Crawford, Sonya Housholder, Wes Sotzen, and Jason Miller, for donations of time, talent, treasures, and resources to make this room possible and beautiful.
- Trevor Jackson, Tushar Mitra for advertising
- Jason, Ivan, and Alex Streeter for doing the hard work to help complete the room
- Alex Streeter for help with painting and decorating the room, and for creating and donating a painting to the room
- Willie, Teresa, Chris, A.J., and Brad Delfs of Sioux City, Iowa for their generous donations of décor and plants
There are three ways to access the WOW room.
- Westlawn front door (closest to Student Health). 2116 WL is down one level from the front door. Take the stairs or elevator down one level to the second floor, when you reach the T intersection with a large wooden bench turn left. The room is down the hall on the left.
- Westlawn tunnel from MERF. At the end of the tunnel, take the stairs or elevator up one level to the second floor, when you reach the T intersection with a large wooden bench turn left. The room is down the hall on the left.
- Westlawn side door (closest to Newton Road Parking Ramp). The room is at the same level as the side door, down the hall on the right.