Okanagan College celebrates ‘construction kick off’ for Recreation and Wellness Centre

By College Relations | June 20, 2024

Kelowna Cheer helped kick off construction of the OC Wellness Centre. Group photo.
Kelowna Cheer Athletics helped kick off a fundraising milestone for the new OC Wellness Centre

There was jumping, cartwheels and a full crowd of cheering spectators on Thursday at Okanagan College to mark an exciting milestone that will transform student life at OC for years to come.

Kelowna Cheer Athletics was on hand to help the Okanagan College Foundation celebrate a major fundraising achievement - they’ve raised $10 million for the Thrive Here campaign, and construction can kick off for the future home of the College’s Recreation and Wellness Centre. 
“Today is a very meaningful day,” remarked Helen Jackman, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation.

“Our Kelowna campus has never had a gymnasium for students. Now, thanks to many passionate supporters who believe in the importance of physical and mental health, we can begin building a space that will have a transformational impact on student well-being. We are so grateful to everyone who helped us achieve this incredible milestone.”

Cliff and Lois Serwa are Honorary Chairs for the Thrive Here campaign and are matching donations up to $500,000 through the Serwa Spirit Match. Cliff Serwa, a co-founder of Big White and former B.C. MLA, shared that playing sports has meant a great deal to his family. 
“I think the lessons learned through sport are really important: work ethic, the concept of team, focus and striving to be the best you can possibly be,” said Serwa. “No matter the level, sport develops a person and equips them with invaluable life lessons.”

Serwa said that while raising $10 million is incredibly significant, he noted that the campaign isn’t at the finish line yet – there’s still $4 million to go before they meet their goal. 
“If you’re a business who has hired graduates from Okanagan College, I’d like to invite you to invest in future students and the future of your own community,” he said. 

The Recreation and Wellness Centre will be the first gymnasium at the Kelowna campus since its inception more than 60 years ago. More than 7,000 students a year will benefit from having a facility that will enable sports and recreation activities.

According to Dr. Neil Fassina, president of Okanagan College, access to sports and recreation on campus supports student mental well-being and learning outcomes, while allowing learners to build leadership skills like resilience and tenacity. He added that the Centre comes at the perfect time for OC.

“With a new student housing facility opening in the fall, there will be more students on campus looking for a place to come together and be involved outside of regular classes. Being able to participate in sports and recreation is so important – not only to relieve stress, but also to meet new people and build relationships.”

The Centre will also be open to the public and broader community, with a state-of-the-art fitness suite, running track and multipurpose rooms for fitness and other programming.

OC’s Recreation and Wellness Centre will include: 

  • Multipurpose gymnasium for students, staff, and the community 
  • Competition-size court to accommodate a range of sport, recreational activities and community events, including convocation and commencement ceremonies 
  • Retractable spectator seating for 700+ 
  • Fitness suite with state-of-the-art equipment 
  • Two lane suspended indoor running track  

The Centre is being designed and constructed by two local firms, Meiklejohn Architects and TKI Construction. Construction will begin offsite and be built using a prefabricated system delivered to Okanagan College to assemble onsite. With community support, the goal is for the Centre to open in Fall 2026. 

To learn more and to support the Thrive Here campaign, visit Okanagan.bc.ca/thrivehere.

Tags: OC Foundation



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