The first of these events was Empower, which occurred in McKibbins Recital Hall at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 20. The event was led by AJ Gonzales, a support group advocate from the STAAC in Lawrence, and focused on self care strategies. Gonzales employed a metaphor for self care that surrounded the idea of boba, with ice, tea and bubbles representing the various facets of life which are necessary or which bring joy. Participants then discussed strategies for balancing these parts of life, and were provided with advice in areas ranging from household chores to relationships on how to live a happier life.
Among the attendees of Empower was Sophomore Allie Renfro, who explained that the event helped her in learning to take care of herself.
“I think I was able to think about how I spend my time, and how much time I spend doing the things I have to do, and how much time I spend doing the things that I want to do. And so, going forward, I’ll be able to spend my time the way that I want to and make time to do the things I want to do,” Renfro stated.
The event also offered information on the STAAC and the services it provides, which include free therapy, free support groups, advocacy and a 24/7 hotline that are all available for survivors of sexual assault. Rachel Gadd-Nelson, the PACE project coordinator for Baker University, stated at the event that the school was working to have a campus advocate from the STAAC in the fall of 2021, which could potentially be accompanied by campus support groups.
Empower, Gadd-Nelson explained, was originally based upon the success of Domestic Violence Awareness Week, which was run and operated earlier in the school year with Alpha Chi Omega.
“It was just a space for students to talk and validate one another and learn that they aren’t alone,” Gadd-Nelson stated.
The Empower event was modeled on these ideas, and focused on education surrounding wellness and balance, providing a deeper understanding for students on what self care really means.
“What does it actually mean to listen to what you need and figure out what you need? It’s a bit of giving yourself a break but sometimes it requires discipline,” Gadd-Nelson offered, explaining the core message of the event.
The meditation lunch was originally planned to take place at noon on Wednesday, Apr. 21 near the campus grape arbor and was later relocated to Rice Auditorium due to weather concerns. The event was intended to provide a time for attendees to bring their lunch and be guided through meditation exercises. Gadd-Nelson elaborated that the event was planned to encourage people to schedule time into their day for breaks or mindfulness. However, the event was canceled due to low attendance.