By Laura Fenton
Pouncer takes the stairs. You should too.
That’s just one of the dozens of healthful choices students, faculty and staff can
make as the University of Memphis begins a healthy new century.
The program, Memphis Healthy U, cohesively organizes 12 departments and colleges to
promote one goal: “Move more. Eat healthier. Be tobacco free.”
“It’s a fresh new start for a fresh 100 years,” said Marian Levy, director of the
MPH Program in the School of Public Health. “We want this to be a part of the campus
culture. We want people to lead healthier lives, because when you lead healthier lives,
you can be a more effective dreamer, thinker and doer.”
The campus-wide campaign started with a 2010 Student Government Association resolution
for the campus to be tobacco-free.
Once President Shirley Raines was presented the initiative, she asked four campus
leaders to head the campaign, but chose to open the goals to include healthy eating,
increased exercise and the choice to be tobacco free.
Vice President of Student Affairs Rosie Phillips Bingham, Provost Ralph Faudree, Chief
Human Resources Officer Maria Alam and Vice President of Business and Finance David
Zettergren combined forces for a U of M healthy lifestyle campaign.
“The president wanted it,” Bingham said. “That carries a lot of weight when she asks
us to do something.”
Now the campaign has morphed into the largest coordinated effort to promote healthier
lifestyles on the U of M campus to date.
Facets include a “Desk to 5K” exercise plan that will culminate with a U of M 5K walk/run
on April 13. Included, too, are wellness seminars to be taught by students from the
Loewenberg School of Nursing every Thursday on topics ranging from cooking demonstrations
to healthy lifestyles. The campus community will find “Memphis Healthy U” labels at
cash registers and signs marking healthier food options, and a “Health Minute” radio
program partnership between the School of Nursing and the campus radio station WUMR.
The event kicked off with a special program on Jan. 24, which featured a Zumba class
and healthy foods for munching.
Pepper Walker, U of M Zumba group fitness instructor, turned up the music and encouraged
the class to jump, turn and shake to the cardio dance moves.
“Anyone can do Zumba,” Walker said.
She’s led Zumba for people sitting in a chair, and even for one man who could not
hear, but instead felt the music and moved to that rhythm.
“It’s a really fun way to get people motivated to move,” she said.
The U of M is promoting a healthier campus through the Memphis Healthy U campaign.
Pouncer and several U of M employees signed a pledge to be tobacco free and to exercise
Participants were also encouraged to visit the Student Recreation and Fitness Center.
In addition to Zumba and other group fitness classes, the Fitness Center has weight
rooms, cardio equipment, personal trainers and more.
“We have state-of-the-art equipment, we have people here to show you how to use the
machines, people to show you how to make an (exercise) program, and, of course, the
swimming pools,” said Suzanne Fenech, coordinator for Recreation Services.
By encouraging faculty, staff and students to choose a healthier lifestyle, the campaign
intends to decrease the estimated 47.3 percent of overweight individuals on campus,
a statistic compiled during the Fall 2011 Student Health Fair.
These numbers “show a huge need for us to have some programs for students,” said Jacqueline
DeFouw, co-chair of Memphis Healthy U and U of M health educator.
Every person choosing to participate will sign a pledge card agreeing to exercise
more, eat healthier and choose to be tobacco free. Anyone interested in tobacco cessation
will be given information on local programs and contacts.
“This program is helping people to stay with their New Year’s resolutions. It lets
them know of all the availability and opportunities that we have on campus to ‘Move
more. Eat healthier. Be tobacco free,’” said Shelly Stockton, assistant professor
in Health and Sport Sciences.
All upcoming events, health research projects and health resources will be listed
on the upcoming Memphis Healthy U website.