Walking Club group photo
During a conversation about recreational activities that could include all of the Salus University community, students Rayanne Brown ‘24OD and Brooke Calle ‘25OD came up with the idea of starting a walking club.
 
“We thought the mental health benefits of walking, and socializing during the walks would be a great outlet from our stressful lives as grad students,” said Brown.

Although it’s not the first time the University has had a walking club, the latest incarnation, called the Salus Strides Walking Club, was born with Brown and Calle as co-coordinators. 
 
Pickleball Pic2“We knew keeping Salus in the name would represent everyone and we chose Strides because of the physical strides achieved during walking and the mental strides towards improving overall wellness,” said Brown.
 
The walking club is just part of an overall effort to revive recreational sports at the University, one that now also includes a running club, recreational basketball (co-ed three-on-three and five-on-five), volleyball and pickleball through a partnership with Cheltenham Township.
 
According to Chris Speece, associate director in the University’s Office of Admissions who works closely with the Student Affairs department, COVID played a large part in sidelining recreational sports on-campus.
 
As the pandemic continued to run its course, Speece and Joe Riley, program manager at the Hafter Student Community Center, were approached by several students about restarting recreational sports programs.
 
In conversations between Student Affairs and the Hafter Center, one of the main sticking points to getting rec sports back up and running was that a new crop of student leadership was needed.
 
Pickleball Pic4“I kept telling the students to talk to Student Affairs and we could get it going,” said Riley. “Once that happened, Student Affairs took the reins. And, once the students realized how valuable it was for them to be part of the planning process, then they hopped on board and became part of that process.”
 
Basketball and volleyball were popular from the get-go, but those sports weren’t for everybody. The running club and the walking club soon followed. And, because of the overall popularity of pickleball now, Cheltenham Township was a willing partner in adding that sport to the mix.
 
Right now, there are about 100 unique participants in all the combined rec sports. There is a committee made of students from each of the sports and Student Council to spearhead the planning.
 
There is no additional cost for students to join, the cost is built into their activities fee. Sign-up sheets for all the sports are sent out through University emails, along with reminders about dates and times for each.
 
Salus Strides, for example, meets twice a week and offers a one-mile walk and a two-mile walk and is open to students, faculty and staff.
 
Pickleball Pic3“Recreational sports also allow participants to form connections within and outside of their programs which makes their transition into the Salus community much easier,” said Brown. She pointed out that the group’s first walk included several members from Salus staff, several from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University, a student from the Osborne college of Audiology (OCA), and a student from Speech-Language Pathology
 
“In just 30 minutes, we all had the opportunity to share our program experiences and ended up finding a lot of similarities we could all relate to and converse about throughout our time together,” said Brown.
 
Speece said that since Salus is a graduate institution, students come in goal-oriented and focused on their academics. He believes stress relief has become more significant and valuable in higher education, and recreational sports can help provide some of that relief.
 
"Coming back from COVID, it was important from a Student Affairs perspective to bring rec sports back,” said Speece. “I know Joe and his staff were getting a lot of requests for it. We were just trying to figure out the way to do it and it took a little bit of work. That’s why this collaboration between Student Affairs and the Hafter Student Community Center has been successful to this point.”