Recreation and Wellness Center helps EAGLES students soar

Published: March 15, 2022

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Education to Accomplish Growth in Life Experiences for Success, or EAGLES, is Auburn’s comprehensive transition program for students with intellectual disabilities. The program allows students a post-secondary education with a two or four-year on-campus experience helping them achieve employment and independent living.

Campus Recreation is one of the many units across campus who partner with the EAGLES program to provide individualized services and support. Auburn Strong, a 12-week health and wellness program, teaches EAGLES students healthy habits that will last a lifetime. The program is open to all EAGLES students.

While developing programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, group fitness coordinator Sarah Goodwin made some changes to Auburn Strong so it can better serve the growing EAGLES program.

Now, EAGLES students benefit from twice-weekly semi-private training, in addition to two cooking demonstrations, one group fitness activity, and pre-and-post-assessments to measure progress.

To help the students implement healthy eating habits, Auburn Strong offers nutrition consultations and cooking workshops, led by registered dieticians from Health Promotion and Wellness Services and Campus Dining.

Last semester, students learned dorm-friendly recipes and how to make easy meals with small appliances. The semester ended with a group fitness activity at Campus Recreation’s rock climbing wall.

When asked about her favorite part of the partnership, Goodwin said, “We thoroughly enjoy exploring all the resources available to students on campus, but specifically with the cooking demonstrations led by Aramark’s registered dietitian, Kaiten Zajac.”

Additionally, Goodwin is excited to bring back a grocery store tour that is led by Morgan McGrady, a registered dietitian from Health Promotion and Wellness Services.

The partnership between Campus Recreation and EAGLES goes even further. Last semester Campus Recreation hired EAGLES Student Kyle Murberger to work with the membership and facilities teams.

“My favorite part about working at Campus Rec is seeing the students come in and working with people my age,” Murberger said.

According to membership coordinator Jan Barfield, Murberger greets, assists members, directs individuals entering the building and helps with equipment cleaning and distribution.

“Kyle is above reproach when it comes to dependability and commitment to his job,” Barfield said. “His presence secures our ability to meet membership needs during demanding, high traffic hours. Most of all, Kyle brings a wonderful excitement to the job which has a positive effect on our staff and the work environment.”

Murberger describes his experience as enjoyable, fun and says that he loves meeting the people who come through the doors.

Collaborating with the EAGLES program has brought positive impacts to the Campus Recreation staff.

“The professional staff and our student employees learn from the EAGLES daily,” Goodwin said. “Whether it is through their hard work and determination at our membership desk or through the relationships and group camaraderie established during training sessions, we love having the opportunity to work with the EAGLES program.”

Submitted by: Payton Beck