December 15, 2022

On Thursday the 15th of December, University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) unveiled their brand-new wellbeing walkway space. Spearheaded by HE Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager, Michelle Crosbie, the project aimed to transform the historically underused space bordering UC Leeds’ campus into a welcoming outdoor, community area for students and staff. The project was given the go ahead in 2022, after the HE Health team secured internal funding for 50% of the project from Luminate Education’s projects group, Eco Warriors.

Bill Jones, Deputy CEO of Luminate Education Group, opened the walkway alongside Dr Sarah Marquez, Dean of University Centre Leeds, and Deputy Dean Rebecca Fores.

Creating a sustainable space

From promoting good wellbeing to responsible consumption, the new walkway has the UN sustainable development goals at its very core and was created in collaboration with RE: Imagining a sustainable future (RE: – Leeds City College).

The project is well-aligned with goals 3, 7, 11, 12 and 15.

Painted, planted and prepared by our Health and Wellbeing staff and students, the walkway is made up of a number of sustainable features including benches created from old pallets, ottoman seats made from old tractor tyres and solar lighting. Reclaimed paint was sourced from a local social enterprise – Seagulls -to breathe colour and life into the walkway.

Thoughtfully designed to appeal to the senses, plants such as lavender, soft grasses and rosemary feature amongst the walkway’s greenery, alongside a bug hotel to home vital insects and pollinators.

Connecting with nature and creating community

Speaking on what inspired her to create the wellbeing walkway, Michelle shared; “With my background in Environmental Management, Health and Wellbeing, I naturally seek out opportunities to connect with nature and encourage a sense of belonginess and community, so when I saw that students had limited space around the building to do this, I wanted to make a change.”

“Evidence shows that our wellbeing is improved by being in nature and when we have a sense of belonging, so I hope that the walkway will be used by our students to share space, stories and create a community. I also hope the walkway will encourage inquisitiveness from those who walk past and perhaps open their vision to University Centre Leeds,” Michelle added.

HE Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager, Michelle Crosbie

“The wellbeing walkway is a fantastic idea. It’s a great way to look after our mental health as well as our physical health,” added Health and Wellbeing undergraduate student Trisha Reading. “It’s also great that it’s had student input in its creation and is a space for both students and staff making it very inclusive.”

Looking ahead to the future for the new wellbeing space, the team are collaborating with the Art department to bring some vibrant new wall art to the walkway. This will again be a student led development and completed in early 2023.

Promoting mental wellbeing

Here at UC Leeds, we seek to transform our institution into a healthy setting. Our wellbeing walkway is accessible to all members of the UC Leeds community and is our next step in our healthy transformation. We hope this new environment will help to promote social integration, support academic achievement and retention, and improve wellbeing.  

We understand that UK universities need to take steps to not only promote and sustain mental wellbeing, but to also provide key support when mental ill health arises. Here at UC Leeds we have a central support service which offers professional counselling and advice to our students and staff. We also offer key learning and financial support to help make the student experience as stress-free as possible. Head over to this page to find out more.