I am wellness short learning programme 


WATCH: 'I Am' Wellness Short Learning Programme Launch








WATCH: Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences; Susan Van Jaarsveld, Senior Director at the Department of Human Resources; and Brandon Jacobs, Head of Retail and Business Banking at Standard Bank, Central Free State, explain what the “I Am’ Wellness programme is about.

"It is so important to look after your health, but specifically, looking after your mental health should be at the top of your list." - Amy Kleinhans, former Miss South Africa.

"Mental health has always been important for functional individuals, families, organisations, and workplaces. But never before has mental health been as important as it is in 2020, and possibly in the next few years." - Prof Thuli Madonsela, former Public Protector.

I Am’ Wellness online programme applications open

“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented new and unique challenges to organisations and institutions. It has forced us to rapidly adapt and find ways to promote and enhance the mental health and wellbeing of the organisation’s most valuable resource – its employees,” said Burneline Kaars, the Head of the Organisational Development and Employee Wellness Division within the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Human Resources.

New workplace wellness programme launched
Kaars’s team, in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Psychology, hosted the virtual launch of the ‘I Am ’Wellness short learning programme on 19 June 2020. The online launch featured some of South Africa’s most influential individuals. Among those endorsing the programme were Prof Thuli Madonsela downloadformer Public Protector; Rolene Strauss – Kovsie alumna and former Miss World; Amy Kleinhans-Curd – former Miss South Africa; and Alison Botha – motivational speaker and author. 

Applications officially open on Wednesday 24 June 2020. In light of the successful launch and rollout of the programme, Kaars gave recognition to the IDEASLAB for its contribution in transforming it into an online programme, given the significance of digitisation during this lockdown. “The creativity and insights were of immense value in this process. IDEASLAB went beyond what was expected by not just creating an online platform but to also create a universal accessible online platform,” she said.

Employees achieving their full potential
Carmine Nieman, Organisational Development Specialist and Programme Coordinator, was instrumental in creating the course. “We developed this programme to increase the wellbeing of employees and empower them to reach their optimal potential in both their work and personal life. The central theme of the programme is: “I am … a great person with great potential,” she said.

Academic Head of the Department of Industrial Psychology, Lyle Markham, believes that by getting employees to a level where they can confidently say: ‘I am a great person with great potential,’ the UFS would have done well in developing a positive culture and practice in the workplace as far as employee wellness is concerned.

The initiative was established with the aim of providing workers with different practices and strategies to improve their own personal and work-related well-being in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Wellness at work has moved from a question of corporate social responsibility to a strategic priority,” explained Markham.

It takes a community to survive the lockdown
The Kovsie community has shown true unity in coming together to back up the ‘I Am’ Wellness initiative. Prof Francis Petersen – Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Brandon Jacobs – Head of Retail and Business Banking: Standard Bark in the Central Free State; Susan van Jaarsveld – Senior Director of Human Resources; and Prof Hendri Kroukamp – Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, have all pledged their support.

According to Prof Petersen, the course is a much-needed intervention considering the circumstances. “During these times, staff might feel anxious, and they might also feel uncertain. And it is for this reason that the multi-disciplinary team developed the ‘I Am’ Wellness programme. It is designed to support our staff and to assist them during these uncertain times.”

The online programme can be completed anywhere. The outcomes of each module are focused and themes that support the enhancement of personal and professional effectiveness and wellbeing that contributes to an energetic and inspired workforce. Stay tuned to the course webpage for updates. 

For more information, contact Carmine Nieman at niemancl@ufs.ac.za

Other programmes done by the UFS Organisational Development and Employee Wellness office:

First #MentalHealth awareness run to Stellenbosch to bring hope
Kovsies pedal smoothie bike for #MentalHealth


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