College is an exciting time in students’ lives, but it comes with many demands. First-year students may struggle to balance their classes, activities, and personal lives as they adjust to their new surroundings.
That’s why EKU leaders and peer mentors established the Colonels Create series, four events designed to help first-year students learn about self-care through art and meditation. The first session in the series was held in Noel Studio on September 4. The next Colonels Create events will be held October 9, November 7 and December 5.
“We wanted to provide freshmen transitioning into college with a way to connect, relieve stress and express themselves creatively,” said Travis Martin, first-year administrator.
Colonels Create sessions begin with mindfulness meditation techniques led by Counseling Center staff. Then, students work together to create mural pieces on the theme of “resilience,” under the supervision of Americorps Program Director Julie Struck. The goal is to have a finished piece by the end of the last session and display it publicly.
“Colonels Create is a safe environment for students to de-stress, but also to explore their own feelings at college during their first year,” said Melinda Moore, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.
In addition to developing community among first-year students, the art itself is a key part of the event’s success.
“There are definite therapeutic benefits to art,” said Moore. “Not only does art allow us to express ourselves, and perhaps discover thoughts or feelings we didn't realize, but it also helps us make sense of things that we might have avoided.”
Aric Young, a second-semester art major, First Year Leader and Navy veteran, recommended the event any student who needs a break. “The event was helpful just because it was relaxing,” he said. “I wasn’t stressed out thinking about the amount of homework and studying I needed to do afterward. It was a very good atmosphere that any student could benefit from throughout the semester.”
Colonels Create is sponsored by the Office of First-Year Courses and Learning Communities, the Department of Psychology and the Counseling Center. The next three sessions will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the Discovery Classroom of the Noel Studio. All art supplies and snacks are provided. Sessions hold up to 24 students, so students should register in advance.