CREATE space for crafts and mental check-ins

Ava Cox ‘27 makes her own stamp at Wofford’s CREATE art program.
Ava Cox ‘27 makes her own stamp at Wofford’s CREATE art program.
Tatum Mogck ’25

For almost a decade, the Wofford College Wellness Center has promoted mental wellness through crafting in some variation. In the beginning, it was “Color, Tea and Me” in Greene Residence Hall. During the COVID-19 restrictions, it was grab-and-go coloring sheets and activities. 

Now, it is “CREATE,” a free arts and crafts event hosted every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Mungo Student Center. The only deviation in location occurs when the art department hosts special events with CREATE, which is a partnership that started with Youmi Efurd, museum curator, a couple of years ago. 

Lisa Lefebvre, director of employee wellness and medical services, and Kellie Buckner, assistant director of counseling, are the ones who initially started the CREATE program around 2014 as a way of providing students some mid-week relaxation, giving them time to dedicate towards art and bonding with their peers. 

“We want students to take time to do things that will help their wellbeing and help their selfcare,” Buckner said. “We know that art can be a really powerful tool for that, so if they take an hour or two out of the week to do something creative, it will benefit their self-care. We don’t formally have ‘Wellness Wednesdays,’ but we want people to take time out of their week to socialize with each other, do something fun and creative and find some time for rest.” 

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Joselyn Williams ’27 says that CREATE is her favorite part of the week and that she has been attending since the first event in the Fall 2023 semester. 

“It’s something to look forward to,” Williams said. “If I didn’t have CREATE, I would be so stressed, and I don’t think I would have as healthy of a routine as I have now.” 

This is evidently a common theme amongst students.

“When we do surveys, students really say that it helps them relax and helps them to feel more focused later,” Lefebvre says.

CREATE’s activities vary weekly, but some of the most popular events include make-your-own spa scrubs, mug painting, paint-your-own tote bag and, by far a student favorite, succulent gardens and plant terrariums, which increased attendance from approximately 15 students to 70.

Rebecca Ann Fairey ’27 and Abby Lyn Pantaleon ’27 are frequent CREATE attendees, and Fairey believes that the biggest impact that the program had on her was in how she was able to use it to adjust to college. 

“It helped a lot at the beginning of the year with transitioning to college as a freshman,” Fairey said. “I am away from home and in a new environment, and I felt like I could go to CREATE in between my classes to relax a little bit and have fun doing whatever, whether it was planting a rock or planting a succulent. You didn’t have to think about anything else.”

Fairey, an ambassador for admissions, says that it made so much of an impact on her that she tells everyone about it when she gives perspective student tours.

Pantaleon initially found out about CREATE when she saw students carrying around the various crafts that they had made, most notably the glitter jars, which sparked her curiosity. 

“I like that we get to keep what we made,” Pantaleon said. “I still have one of the canvases that we painted as decoration in my room, and it’s so fun to get to look back at it.”

The schedule for CREATE for the rest of the semester is as follows: 

On March 13, students can participate in watercolor painting. 

On March 20, students can build their own succulent garden or plant terrarium. 

On March 27, students can make their own spa scrubs. 

On April 10 and 17, students can either participate in wood burning or canvas painting, choosing one activity each week. 

On April 24, students can participate in a surprise craft with the art department in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts. 

On May 1, students can decorate a mental health banner. 

To conclude the semester, Lefebvre is especially excited because students can make a gift for a friend, with multiple options available. 

“We’re really big into gratitude, and I think that art gratitude is the probably best,” Lefebvre said. “Think about what your mom has at home. There are probably still pictures you drew as a kid hanging on the wall.” 

Be sure to follow @woffordwellness on Instagram for updates on the CREATE program. 

“You should go to CREATE,” Pantalean said. “There’s no harm in trying. You get to get your creative juices flowing and take it home too!”

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