At Salem Academy and Salem College, wellness is far more than just the state of the physical body. The school approaches wellness in a comprehensive way, with a campus program that addresses eight different dimensions. And among those, spiritual wellness has become a major priority.
That’s mostly due to Rev. Dr. Amy Rio, chaplain at Salem Academy and Salem College. A Methodist minister who has worked in campus ministries for 22 years — the last 13 of those at Salem — Rio is attuned to the spiritual needs of students, no matter their background.
“In my role as chaplain, I’m there for people of all different faith traditions and belief sets,” she says. “With the focus on spiritual wellness, we try to provide a lot of different opportunities no matter their faith tradition.”
Cultivating that sense of inclusivity is integral to Rio’s work on campus. She received certification in the Haden Institute’s multi-faith spiritual directors training program, which has helped her create programming at Salem that speaks to the needs of all members of the campus community. Rio hosts a weekly session, called Anam, which is Gaelic for “soul”; students at Salem College can get in touch with their spirits through activities that range from guided meditation to tai chi to coloring mandalas. She facilitates a similar program at Salem Academy, as well as a Mindful Monday session for employees.
“The students really like just having 30 minutes to take time away from their studies,” she says. “They can take the time and just sit and do something that’s good for their spirits. Research has shown that when people take time — even if it’s just five or 10 minutes a day, a few times a week — just to focus on their spirits, it really helps impact every other aspect of their life in a positive way.”
In addition to these group sessions, Rio also works with students one-on-one to help guide them through their personal spiritual journeys.
She does this work off campus, seeing clients and hosting group sessions, like spiritual journaling, for the greater community at Wellspring Healing.
“My focus has really been women coming from all faith traditions,” she says. “Women have a great deal on them in this society, and if I can help provide some support to help with their spiritual well-being, that’s one of the best things I can do with my time. And I really do enjoy that — it’s really a calling.”
And while she loves working with people of all ages, it’s the spiritual guidance she offers the young women at Salem Academy and Salem College that truly fulfills her most.
“My deepest theological belief is every single person has that divine light in them, and if I can help these young people realize the wisdom and power that they have within themselves, then that’s one of the greatest things I can do,” she says. “I feel honored to journey with them on that path.”