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Tyler AshfordTyler Ashford had his presentation on self-care by residence life student staff selected among the top five at a conference of his peers last weekend.

Message for student staff in residence: caring for others requires prioritizing yourself

When you’re constantly on the go, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself, says Tyler Ashford.

A student of concurrent education and a resident assistant in Macdonald Hall, he received a vivid reminder while preparing a presentation on the topic of self-care for a province-wide conference at Trent University in Peterborough.

“It was eye-opening for me doing the research and recognizing myself in the literature,” Ashford laughs. “I looked up from my section on getting enough sleep and realized it was 4:00 in the morning.”

The annual Residence Life Conference has been run by the Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officers for 36 years. Ashford’s presentation on self-care, which centred on retaining student staff, finished among the top five of over 120 proposals.

Ashford collaborated with his sister Emma Pardy, a residence don at Western University, to present the material.

“We wanted to share how we can better care for ourselves,” Ashford says. “We concentrated on six areas of self-care: personal, academic, physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual.”

He points out that residence staff are aware that they have to be both physically and mentally healthy if they are to provide proper care for their charges: “We have to ask ourselves why so many of us fail to put these strategies into practice.”

Lynn Charron, residence life team lead in Residence Services, says this is the first time in memory that any Windsor presentations made it to the conference’s top five.

“We were all very proud of Tyler. He did an excellent job representing both Residence Services and the University,” she says. “We were really excited to see the partnership between us and Western because it showed that it is possible for residence student staff to partner up and learn from other residence systems in order to better the programs we offer.”