WMU News

Summer institute puts focus on holistic health

May 4, 2004

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.--A relatively new and innovative learning experience will intertwine holistic health care with the natural beauty of northern Michigan in July and August during Western Michigan University's Leelanau Holistic Summer Institute.

Now entering its sixth year, the institute is offered by the WMU College of Health and Human Services and its Holistic Health Care program. It will attract people interested in holistic health care from across the country to Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, where participants will immerse themselves in intensive, weeklong classes devoted to integrating holistic methods into everyday life. They also will enjoy Michigan' s beautiful natural surroundings, while living in a community of kindred spirits.

"It keeps getting better every year," says Gay Walker, a member of the holistic health care faculty at WMU. "It's so unique compared to a typical classroom experience. And it's really taken off, partially through word of mouth."

Classes are offered in a non-traditional, collaborative setting, Walker says. Two classes are offered in each of two sessions and allow students to experience as well as learn about holistic health. A number of complementary and alternative approaches, techniques and resources are explored, including meditation, yoga, massage, reflection, group discussion, beach activities and guest presentations. Each subject will be taught by experienced members of WMU's holistic health care faculty, including two authors of the popular book on holistic health, "Seeds of Awakening."

On average, the institute draws about 35 to 40 students per week. Students commute from nearby cities like Traverse City or Glen Arbor, or come from as far away as New York or Chicago.

The first session will take place July 26- 31 and will offer the courses Introduction to Holistic Health, taught by Dr. Karen Horneffer, and Introduction to Holism and Expressive Arts, taught by Walker. The second session, Aug. 1-7, will offer a Seminar in Holistic Methods II, taught by Dr. Tom Holmes, and Counseling Skills for Health Professionals, taught by Dr. Edo Weits. Students may take one class per session.

The institute will take place at the Leelanau School, a private 50-acre boarding school in scenic Glen Arbor, Mich. The campus is located in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the coast of Lake Michigan, 25 miles west of Traverse City, 260 miles northwest of Detroit and 340 miles northeast of Chicago.

Students enrolling in the institute may take courses for personal enrichment or for application toward WMU's popular 18-credit-hour graduate certificate program in holistic health care. The graduate certificate program also is offered in a weekend format at the University's main campus in Kalamazoo, Mich., and at its campuses in Grand Rapids, Lansing, St. Joseph, Traverse City and Battle Creek.

But the setting at the institute is truly special, Walker says.

"Students have the opportunity to meditate or do yoga on the beach and since they're away from the TV and telephone, they can totally focus on what they're learning," Walker says. "People can try on a new lifestyle and that new way of being is something that, hopefully, they'll take with them."

The certificate program, one of the nation's first university-based holistic health care programs, is relationship-centered and integrates health knowledge into everyday life. It is based on the philosophy of holism, an approach to health and healing that encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental dimensions of a person's life.

The institute lets students complete the course work for the University's certificate program over two to three summers and then complete the required internship at their home locations.

The Leelanau Holistic Summer Institute is appropriate for health care professionals, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, physicians, ministers and occupational and physical therapists. Those interested in incorporating holistic approaches into their personal, family and work lives, and students enrolled in health care-related degree programs also may find it valuable.

Space is limited, so immediate registration is encouraged. For a brochure and application, contact Mary Swartz, director of WMU's campus in Traverse City, by mail at: Western Michigan University, NMC University Center, 2200 Dendrinos Drive, Suite 200-B, Traverse City, MI 49684; call (231) 995-1788; fax (231) 995-1789; or e-mail <mary.swartz@wmich.edu>. People also may visit the Web site <www.wmich.edu/holistichealth>.

Published by WMU's Department of Holistic Health, "Seeds of Awakening" is available at <www.amazon.com> or by calling (269) 376-2650.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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