12/21/07 — Mount Olive College receives $280,000 grant

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Mount Olive College receives $280,000 grant

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 21, 2007 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College has received a $280,000 grant that will be used for a new fitness program targeting at-risk families from Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties.

The money, awarded from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, will be used for "Fitness by Design," a regional program of the Pope Wellness Center at the college.

Its goal is to improve the lifestyles of poor and underserved clients by significantly reducing health risks from obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Nutrition, exercise and social fitness will be the program's main components.

The population of eastern North Carolina is particularly at risk for the health factors, said Dr. Chris Dyer, dean for the School of Arts and Sciences at MOC and also affiliated with the new fitness program.

"When compounded with poverty, poor diet and inadequate health care and wellness education, this region is ranked as one of the unhealthiest in the country," he said.

"We have taken the approach that obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are causally related, and to achieve long-term improvements in comprehensive wellness a holistic preventive health care model is needed."

Several features will be included in the program, including mentors, trainers and nutritionists. A licensed nutritional therapist will run the nutrition portion, with students from the college's Recreation and Leisure Studies program serving as "Fitness Buddies" to motivate and support clients through tailored workout programs and then chart progress throughout.

Clients will be recruited from local communities in the target areas based on referrals, community outreach and advertisement with local collaborating health care providers in the surrounding areas. During the grant's seven-year run, 60 clients will be secured for the first year, with an additional 40 to be added in subsequent years. A total of 300 will be served over the span of the program.

Dr. Hervey Kornegay, medical director of Duplin County Health Department, said he sees great potential with the project.

"Done right, this can serve as a model for the whole country and be replicated to help attack the medical pandemics we are facing in all levels of our society," he said.

The college is also seeking funding from other sources to sustain the program beyond the life of the initial grant money.