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A Tapestry Champion

16 August, 2016

Not all of those with a passion for the Olympic Games end up on the podium – some end up in the classroom.

Shawna Lawson is a friendly face that has been around Tapestry at Wesbrook Village since it opened its doors six years ago. In fact, Shawna has grown with our community, moving from Restaurant server to receptionist to Program Assistant and now Director – all while completing two degrees at UBC.

We were thrilled to sit down with this UBC alumni after she successfully defended her Master’s thesis, which examined the environmental policies of the 2012 London Olympics. We wanted to hear about her perspective on the Rio Games, and how Tapestry remained a constant throughout her academic journey.

Shawna laughed as she recalled how Tapestry and her interest in the Olympics have intertwined.

“I can still remember watching the women’s hockey team win Olympic gold in our pub in 2010, coming back to curious residents after my trip to the London Games in 2012, and I’m now high-fiving residents as we win medals in Rio – my Olympic memories are also Tapestry memories.”

Shawna & residents

Shawna and residents celebrating Master’s completion! KD Srivastava, Vice-President Emeritus (former Vice-Prez) of UBC , holding Shawna’s thesis!

When deciding to focus her graduate degree on the sustainability partnerships and policies of the London Olympics, she knew the residents would be behind her.

“They have been some of my biggest fans! Many offered to proof-read my thesis and begged to come to my defense presentation. I’ve always felt so incredibly supported by everyone in our community.”

It turns out, her education and interest in the Games have also supported programming at Tapestry.

“One of the most amazing things about Tapestry at Wesbrook Village is the connection to UBC. I see the residents as lifelong learners who want an ongoing university connection, and I share that passion.”

Throughout her education, Shawna has found ways to connect her learnings back to Tapestry. She brought in a panel of prominent academics to speak about the Vancouver Games, partnered with UBC’s Center for Brain Health for a large-scale study and course on sleep, and has collaborated with UBC’s Department of Graduate and Post-doctoral studies to create an exclusive Masterclass Lecture Series. Here, graduate students present their work to the residents, who respond with feedback on presentation style and content.

“There’s a two-way benefit; great for residents to stay engaged with leading-edge research, and awesome for students to get feedback. Our residents have lifelong expertise that can influence a younger generation of academics.”

See more on the Masterclass here – http://www.med.ubc.ca/a-win-win-for-ubc-researchers-and-seniors-in-the-community/

Most recently, Shawna has recruited Chris, Brynna and Travis – three varsity athletes who share undergraduate degrees in Kinesiology. With Shawna’s leadership and the trainer’s expertise, the fitness department has tripled resident participation in less than six months.

“Again, the residents see value in expertise. Brynna has specialty training in adapted physical activity, Chris in personal training and injury prevention, and Travis in cardiac rehab and athletic training. It’s a stellar combination and together we’ve got nearly three decades of university education and five and a half degrees”.

And Shawna herself felt the impact of support and feedback from residents as she completed her Masters. It was encouraging for her to know that the residents were behind her all the way.

“It was the most incredible feeling to come back and tell my Tapestry family that I had completed my degree. I had congratulatory cards covering my desk, broke some sort of record for most hugs in an afternoon and had residents tear up when hugging me. One resident told me that if he were my dad he would be so proud of me. I was truly overwhelmed by their support. They’ve watched me grow up in a lot of ways. ”

In timely fashion, Shawna’s thesis was about the Summer Olympics. She specifically focused on sustainability policy of the 2012 London Olympic Games and the role of oil-giant BP as a ‘sustainability partner’. This partnership was widely criticized due to BP’s poor environmental track record, and the 2016 Games in Rio have also experienced criticism based on their approach to hosting an environmentally friendly Games.

“It will be interesting to see how the coverage of Rio’s relatively poor track record relating to pollution and human-rights will change over the course of the Olympics. Typically, we see a swell of protests and media critique prior to the opening ceremonies, but much is forgotten after the Games come to a close. I’ll be interested in how Rio deals with these contradictions during the remainder of the Games, and if locals will be able keep the spotlight on the issues that are important to them”.

As the Olympics pass the half way mark, residents and staff at Tapestry at Wesbrook Village are engaging both physically through Olympic themed activities and intellectually through discussions about their cultural and socioeconomic impacts. Time will tell how we look back at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, as it did for Shawna’s successful journey at UBC.

Sound interesting? Call Tapestry at Wesbrook Village at 604.225.5000 to arrange for a tour today!

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