The following is a formula for success: an energetic Sport Science Department, committed faculty with a desire to serve the community, strong partnerships within the Elkins community and a significant need to fight the obesity epidemic and promote healthy lifestyles within West Virginia. The result is a dynamic and highly effective free program called Project Life Change, now in its fifth year and continuing to grow and serve Randolph County.
Serving both the campus community and the community-at-large, Project Life Change, according to its mission statement, seeks “to prepare and inspire individuals for success and healthy living.” Originally conceived by Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca, department chair and A. Jean Minnick Professor of Sport Science at D&E, this venture is taking the expertise of our faculty, providing a practical learning lab for our students, and improving the lives and health of people within the community. Project Life Change is a microcosm of the transformative nature of a D&E education, coupled with a powerful example of the contribution the college makes to the people of this region.
Partnerships always make programs stronger. The Snowshoe Foundation has provided funding from the inception of this venture. The Elkins/Randolph County YMCA offers participants free access to its facility, which is in addition to the free access offered to fitness facilities at D&E. Davis Medical Center has also offered a clinical dietitian who will again speak to participants in the spring 2018 session. Internships for D&E students in sport science and nursing further enhance the program for participants and add the tangible educational component for future educators and practitioners in the field.
During the nine-week course, led by D&E’s Dr. DeLuca, Assistant Professor of Sport Science Dr. Jennifer Riggleman and Instructor of Sport Science Amanda Larkin, participants receive information on nutrition, activity and overall wellness education, in addition to pre- and post-assessment of health and wellness. Classes are presented in an upbeat manner and participants indicate they are not only learning valuable information about health, but the classes are fun as well. Since the program’s inception in 2013, 274 people have completed the course, age ranges of participants have been 10 to 82, and more than 14,000 pounds have been collectively shed among all participants. The current spring 2018 session has 57 people enrolled.
I lift up Project Life Change as a tangible example of the advantages offered by an institution such as D&E to the community, and the reciprocal advantage of willing partners within the community to enhance their outreach by working collaboratively with the College. I am grateful for faculty who are willing to utilize their significant knowledge in their chosen field, not only for the benefit of students, but also for the good of the community at-large.
Dr. Riggleman summed it up best: “Since we, as a department, have the resources and knowledge, we feel committed to improving the health and wellness of the people in our community and the surrounding area.”
The result is a healthier community. All of this makes me very proud to be associated with an outstanding educational institution that improves the quality of life for all within our community.
The journey continues….