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St. Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure students present on ‘mind, body and spirit’ at state conference

Dec 14, 2021

Four St. Bonaventure University students gave a presentation titled “Legacy of Healthy Athletes: Harmony of Mind, Body and Spirit” at the 83rd Annual Conference for the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (NYSAHPERD). 

St. Bonaventure students at a conferenceThe association is the governing professional organization for the physical education and sport studies programs at St. Bonaventure. The students’ Nov. 18 presentation took place at the Turning Stone Convention Center in Verona, New York.

The students, Chelsey Vincent, Hayley Tasselmyer, Kaylee Vincent and Savannah Gonsiorek, co-presented with Dr. Paula Scraba, associate professor of physical education at St. Bonaventure, and Kyle Walsh, senior director of program-sports for Special Olympics New York. In addition, the students participated in the conference’s future professional programs to develop interview skills and prepare for New York State teacher licensing assessments.

All four students are officers in the campus Physical Activity Club (PAC) as well as the Special Olympics College Club. The Special Olympics College Club, recognized by Special Olympics International, connects college students and individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport to build friendships and help lead the social justice movement of Special Olympics.

Chelsey Vincent, a senior physical education major, is president of PAC and a member of the SBU rugby team. Tasselmyer, a senior physical education major, is a member of the women’s swim team and vice president of PAC. Gonsiorek is a senior physical education major and a member of the PAC leadership team. Kaylee Vincent is a junior education major, captain of the rugby team and secretary of PAC.

The students’ presentation focused on how the relationship with all athletes begins by promoting a holistic approach of fellowship and wellness for harmony of mind, body and spirit. On campus, the Physical Activity Club promoted Healthy Athlete-Strong Mind programs, including a Fit 5 Challenge for athletes with disabilities and partnering with a committee for diversity, equity and inclusion to present a student-athlete mental health panel.

The presentation session helped coaches attending the conference explore the elements of a holistic model. The presenters also stressed the importance of developing models in which athletics departments collaborate with other programs to meet the needs of athletes inside and outside of the athletic environment.

The St. Bonaventure students shared their experiences and the benefits of new opportunities for athletes at SBU with the university’s sport nutritionist and sport counselors. They also shared their coaching experiences and the initiatives developed between St. Bonaventure and Special Olympics that encourage participation, enhance education and expand community awareness in Western New York.

Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter of the parent organization in the United States, serving more than 63,000 athletes with cognitive and intellectual challenges.