Healthy inspiration: Janell Edwards gets people moving with Fat to Fit Program

A local exercise enthusiast recently brought her annual health summer program to Alcorn State University to help combat obesity in surrounding communities.

Janell Edwards, executive director for the Fayette Community Service Organization (FCSO) in Fayette, Mississippi, hosted her 9th annual Fat to Fit Summer Olympic Games at the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20.

Fat to Fit was created to increase natural physical activity among residents, increase health literacy, and promote the knowledge of important health numbers all while having fun and engaging in healthier living. FCSO is a non-profit organization based in Fayette that created the Fat to Fit program.

Learning of the lack of healthy practices by citizens in her community is what inspired Edwards to start the fitness initiative. Research presented in an article by the Clarion Ledger over a decade ago showed that Jefferson County was the most obese county in America. The findings moved Edwards to set out on a journey that would save her community.

"We began to explore ways of encouraging people to get accustomed to natural physical activity such as walking, running, jump roping, playing basketball, or any other activity," said Edwards.

The mission is for Edwards to get everyone involved, especially the youth. Her organization sponsors events in the Fayette community to teach the children and their parents about health literacy, their health numbers such as blood pressure and body mass index, and dieting. Her team awards those who with special prizes for keeping up the good work.

"We want to instill healthy living in our children while they're young. We show them how to plant a garden, and from there, we add incentives for them to keep up the excellent work with their parents. "

Alfred Galtney, director for University Research and Sponsored Programs who helped coordinate the event, expressed pride in the program's success. He looks forward to keeping the partnership going for years to come.

"We hope to continue working with the group to inspire exercise, healthy eating, and friendly competitiveness. It truly is a much-needed activity to conclude the summer break for the children."

Over the years, Edwards has lost 100 pounds, proving to be a role model for those aspiring to be healthier.