It was a classic photo finish, but Shannon O’Toole’s yoga pose silhouette rose above a highly competitive field of more than 800 entries to win the grand prize in the Duke Healthy Campus Photo Contest.
The photo captures O’Toole, a clinical nurse II in Duke Hospital’s Emergency Department, doing morning yoga on a beach in Kauai last year. She and her roommate spent a week camping on the exotic Hawaiian island.
“Yoga is an important part of my health and wellness, as it helps me achieve balance and stillness in the hectic flow of the daily grind,” she wrote in her entry. “When I step onto my mat I’m able to be present in the moment as well as achieve the physical benefits of the practice.”
As a yoga teacher, O’Toole often invites her coworkers from the Emergency Department to join her.
“Yoga is a big part of my life,” she said. “I think I’m so drawn to it because it helps provide balance to the more stressful side of my life in working in an emergency room.”
O’Toole, a Durham native, has visited Ashville, N.C. before, but she is looking forward of taking advantage of the grand prize for her first stay at the Grove Park Inn & Spa.
Chris Hildreth, director of Duke Photography, selected the winning entry from 65 finalists. But he said it was a difficult choice.
“The winning entry stood out for its overall composition,” he said “The image offered a sense of quiet energy and motion, inviting the viewers eye an opportunity to move across the image from left to right following the subjects pose and the horizon line to an imaginary vanishing point. The impact of the image was enhanced by the lower-than-eye-level angle, the lighting of the sunrise, and the richness of depth and color.”
Because of the quality of the entries, Hildreth selected three other photos as honorable mentions because of their “interesting compositions” that “invites the eye to move through them on a visual treasure hunt.”
Photos from the contest ranged from pictures of family and friends to exotic locations, and from yoga poses and peaceful environmental portraits to skydiving jumps and outdoor adventures. Entries reflected broad participation with about 50 submissions from faculty, 160 from students, and more than 600 from staff.
In addition to the quality photos representing varying aspects of health and wellbeing, many touching stories were submitted by students, faculty, and staff expressing why their health and wellbeing are important to them. Many of these stories will be featured in the coming months as part of the formal introduction of the initiative at the beginning of the fall semester.
“This contest reflected in very personal ways how deep and meaning the role our health and wellbeing plays in our lives and the lives of those we care about,” said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration and co-chair of the Healthy Duke Steering Committee.
The initiative is also being rebranded slightly and will be known as “Healthy Duke” going forward. The name change more closely aligns with a similar local effort called Healthy Durham.