Alcorn’s HPER Department holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for new sports facility

Alcorn’s HPER Department holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for new sports facility

On October 24, a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for a new sports facility was held at the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex. Alcorn students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to celebrate the success of the HPER for Fitness program spearheaded by Dr. Garry Lewis, assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

“Today, we officially opened our new fitness room with state-of-the-art equipment,” said Dr. Lewis. “Thanks to funding by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and dedication of the Department of HPER and School of Education and Psychology staff, we can continue our efforts of involving the Alcorn family and surrounding community in an active and healthy life style.”

Sheila B. Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation explained, “The project focuses on health and wellness through a grant provided by the Foundation. The check for $315,219 was provided in January 2012 for the year-long project. The University has acquired fitness equipment, added fitness classes and conducted several summer camps for elementary and middle school students. It is our hope that efforts to encourage health and wellness will be sustainable for years to come.”

Dr. Johnny Thomas, chair, Department of HPER, commended Dr. Lewis and said, “Congratulations to the department and Dr. Lewis for undertaking and seeing to fruition this monumental project. This was the largest grant ever received by the department since its creation.”

Dr. Robert Carr, dean, School of Education and Psychology exclaimed, “It is hard to overestimate the importance of this project as our surrounding Jefferson and Claiborne Counties, besides Holmes County, are considered the most obese in the state, and Mississippi is the most obese state in the nation. So, educating community members on a healthy life style and providing opportunities for free exercise classes is of utmost importance.”

The HPER for Fitness program focuses on reducing obesity among Alcornites and surrounding community members and has three components: physical fitness, nutrition and health education. Now, it involves over 200 people ages 18-60. Groups meet regularly for fitness training that includes spin cycle, resistance tubing training, cross-fit circuit training, kettle ball class and aerobics led by members of the HPER department. Nutrition and health education is provided by the Department of Human Sciences’ staff.

In his speech during the ceremony, Dr. Lewis said, “We have received most of our cardio equipment and weights and anticipate the rest of it by the end of the year. Our fitness room looks great and we welcome our HPER for Fitness program members to come check it out!”

The program continued with testimonials by the program members.

“I joined the program in September and I absolutely love it,” shared Patricia Leonard, secretary for the Mississippi Small Farms Development Center, Office of the Policy Institute, School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences. “I built up my strength and can now do things that I couldn’t do before. Spin class at first seemed so hard, and now it’s my favorite. I would recommend this program to everybody.”

Addie Davis, academic advisor, Student Academic Support Center agreed with her and added, “I would encourage people to attend regularly. Once you get in the habit of exercising and you start losing weight it makes you feel so good!”

“I’ve lost 14 pounds, got off my diabetic medication and my blood work results have been good for the past several months since I joined the program,” proudly exclaimed Dr. Arnetta Crosby, assistant professor in the Department of Education and Psychology. “I am a living testimony to the fact that by exercising regularly and eating right you can reverse the effects of diabetes.”

Mass communication student Ariel Barnes stated, “My sister and I joined the program a couple of months ago not only because we wanted to lose weight, but to also get physically fit, strong and get more active. Now we feel that our endurance and energy level are up thanks to the fitness program. Exercising even helps me to relax and sleep better at night.” 

The program concluded with refreshments and a group photo.

For more information and join the program, contact Dr. Lewis at 601-877-6503.

2012 HPER ribbon cutting 

Pictured L to R: Sheila Grogan, Dr. Lewis, Dr. Thomas and Dr. Carr.