ITTA BENA, Miss.— From new exercise equipment and free fitness classes to farmer’s markets, healthy food demonstrations and after-school programs—as its name suggests, Mississippi Valley State University’s Valley in Motion health initiative has been on the move.
Funded by a $374,155 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Valley in Motion is a program designed to help increase healthy living outcomes on MVSU’s campus, local schools and surrounding communities.
In celebration of the impact Valley in Motion has had, as well as the chance to highlight the many opportunities the program offers to the campus and community, MVSU will host “Valley in Motion Day" Wednesday, Feb. 7.
“The purpose for ‘Valley in Motion Day’ is to highlight all of the great things we have going on MVSU’s campus and in the community to promote healthy lifestyles,” said Project Coordinator Christine Campbell.
“Most of our activities are open to the community, so we’re hoping to attract more participants by demonstrating some of the small changes one can make to improve their overall health.”
The event will be highlighted by a “President’s Walk”, during which the campus and local community members are encouraged to join MVSU President Dr. Jerryl Briggs at 1:30 p.m. for a stroll around campus.
It will also feature a special ribbon cutting at 1:15 p.m. to formally signify the campus-wide implementation of the program.
Other activities will include an Informational Session and Awards Ceremony (11 a.m., first floor of Sutton Administration Building); food demonstrations (2:30 p.m., H.M. Ivy Cafeteria); a tour of MVSU’s Fitness Center (2:30 p.m.) and the chance to test ride the new Zagster bikes available for rental on MVSU’s campus.
Since officially kicking off in June 2017, Valley in Motion has teamed up with seven local partners in a variety of ways to meet its goals.
This past summer, the grant enabled MVSU to sponsor two fun fitness camps for local students. Also, Fitness Specialists now visit East Elementary and Leflore Elementary Schools twice monthly to conduct physical activities with students.
On campus, new monitors displaying healthy menus have been mounted in MVSU’s cafeteria, lights have been installed along the University’s walking trail, a nurse now regularly visits to provide routine screenings and a bike share program has been implemented.
“One of the caveats of the grant is that it’s not designed just for you to lose weight, but rather it’s asking individuals to consider how they live on a daily basis—how they eat, how much activity are they performing,” said Project Director Jannette Adams. Dr. Gloria Ross serves as the co-project director.
“This particular grant is transformative for Mississippi Valley and the Delta where there’s a prevalence of chronic diseases—heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes. What we’re trying to do is ask people to take little steps and let us provide them with best practices to maximize results.”
A total of four Fitness Specialists are also on-hand at MVSU’s Fitness Center, open each day from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help sign-up interested individuals, provide assistance and individualized instruction, and reinforce exercise safety.
“That, to me, is the biggest benefit because you don’t have to make those choices by yourself. You have people who are dedicated to making sure you succeed,” said Adams. What we’re trying to do is ask people to take little steps and we follow you while you take those baby steps and provide you with best practices to maximize results.”
The program has already signed-up over 100 participants during its first year, and Campbell said that’s only the beginning.
“Our goal is to see a decrease in some area that could impact your health on a long-term basis,” she said. “If our participants benefit in any way from what we’re doing, we consider that a success.”
For questions or more information about MVSU “Valley in Motion” program, contact Campbell at (662) 299-3810.