Erin Craft-Otterbacher used to coordinate Zumba, yoga and other exercise classes in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences for nursing majors. She recalled pushing tables and chairs around in a classroom to create enough room for the group to exercise.
Her commitment to wellness was enhanced by her role on the executive board for Kirkhof College of Nursing’s Student Nurses’ Association. Her role has now snowballed into a study that has caught the attention of university administrators.
Over the past year, Craft-Otterbacher has spent countless hours advocating for a new exercise facility at the Pew Grand Rapids Campus for its students, faculty and staff members.
Craft-Otterbacher created a survey that went to 4,000 students who attend classes in Grand Rapids. It yielded 1,200 responses, with 96 percent of respondents stating they would use a downtown exercise facility. Most stated they would be willing to pay a fee.
After input from KCON faculty and staff members, Craft-Otterbacher gave her evidence-based presentation to all Pew Campus deans plus the Health and Wellness Task Force. Next is a meeting with the Provost’s Office, and in the fall, she hopes to secure a resolution from Student Senate members supporting the project.“I feel I’m a voice for the downtown students,” Craft-Otterbacher said. “I am passionate about this and the support I have received so far has been tremendous.”
In the survey, students cited the time it takes to get to the Allendale Campus Fieldhouse and cost of Grand Rapids-area gyms as barriers to a regular workout routine.
Grand Valley maintains an exercise room in Winter Hall, accessible to faculty and staff members and the students who live there.
Craft-Otterbacher said she’s cautious not to present specific facility options during her presentation. “Any space allocated will be better than what there is now,” she said.
Angela Caruso, academic advisor for KCON, has worked closely with Craft-Otterbacher on this project.
“I admire Erin’s dedication and drive,” Caruso said. “She is an exceptional role model and I have seen her positive influence guide others.”
Craft-Otterbacher will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She said she hopes this project remains a campus priority.
“I feel that I’ve laid the groundwork for this to continue,” she said. “Every time I have met with someone about this, it feels like a success.”
Craft-Otterbacher plans to present this project at the National Student Nurses’ Association conference in November.