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Livingstone, Novant win $261,000 grant to fight obesity at college

SALISBURY – The Duke Endowment has awarded Novant Health Foundation Rowan Medical Center $261,891 to support a three-year wellness program for Livingstone College students.
The groundbreaking partnership between the hospital and Livingstone College will target obesity and its related health effects within the student population.
Fifty percent of female Livingstone students treated in the college’s health center are classified as overweight. Another 15 percent are obese, according to Ann Peebles, Livingstone’s Health Center director. Forty percent of male students are overweight, with another 15 percent to 20 percent classified as obese.
Despite the college’s requirement of two semesters of physical education and numerous wellness seminars throughout the year, students continue to struggle with high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath and poor dietary habits, Peebles said.
Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins spoke candidly about the typical Livingstone College student profile and the college’s need to address obesity, which he called “the most prevailing ailment of the disadvantaged.” Jenkins said he will consider campus changes to facilitate healthier lifestyles.
As part of the new collaboration with Novant Health, Livingstone will provide its student health center space and staff, recreational facilities and potential farm land designated for a student garden to supplement the wellness component with exercise and nutrition programs. Novant Health will provide office space and equipment, staff support and marketing and outreach efforts.
“I am thrilled that we are able to collaborate with Dr. Jenkins and Livingstone College on this tremendous opportunity to improve student health,” hospital President Dari Caldwell said in a news release. “This partnership will deliver on our mission to improve the health of the community, one person at a time and demonstrates our continued commitment to serve as a trusted community partner to our most valuable institutions such as Livingstone College.”
The new program is modeled after Novant Health’s employee wellness program and will provide students with biometric screenings and consistent campus-based wellness coaching at Livingstone’s Center for Holistic Learning and student health center. Biometric screenings gather vital baseline health information including blood sugar, cholesterol and body mass index.
Baseline data will be used in personal health coaching sessions. Screenings will be conducted annually to measure results and improvements. The program will be offered to all students, with particular focus on the outcomes of the 2014 freshman class over a four-year period through 2018. 
“Livingstone College is the only institution of higher education in the nation that has developed a holistic learning environment,” Jenkins said. “One of the tenants of the holistic learning environment is health and wellness. This tenant is based on the theory that a healthy body is a more productive body.”
Jenkins said he is ecstatic about the collaboration with Novant Health and expressed appreciation to the Duke Endowment for recognizing a cutting-edge educational frontier. With funding from the endowment, the program will be more comprehensive and provide priceless benefits for students, he said.
“This grant and the collaboration with Novant Health affirms our statement to students who enroll at Livingstone College that they also enroll in a four-year health camp,” Jenkins said. “Truly, the students who enroll at Livingstone College, we can say without a doubt, will graduate healthier and fitter than when they enrolled.”
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, the Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits.
Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3 billion in grants. The endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

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