Maryville College has started an initiative dedicated to improving the health of its students and faculty, as well as its community as a whole. Prompted by less than satisfactory levels of physical activity on campus, the Mountain Challenge staff and other students interested in fitness have decided to put its long-standing concerns to fruition with the creation of a student-led wellness initiative.
The group is the brainchild of Bruce Guillaume, founder and director of the Mountain Challenge program, who called upon the group’s formation as part of the college’s Strategic Wellness Initiative. The initiative, passed in 2011, aims to improve the overall health of the campus, but Guillaume said he believes focusing on fitness is the first step.
“If we can get our students and faculty to just be more intentionally active, then other healthier habits will follow,” Guillaume said.
This kind of forward thinking caught the attention of the Tennessee governor’s office, which has created a private, nonprofit organization with the goal of improving Tennessee’s health. Now, the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness has officially partnered with Maryville College to help it achieve this goal.
In a letter declaring its support, president and CEO of the foundation Rick Johnson praised the college as “both a place of higher education and a workplace” for its potential to be “a recognized leader of health and wellness programs for other academic institutions and for the East Tennessee community.”
The state estimates that poor lifestyle habits cost Tennessee as much as $6 billion per year. Among the most recent nationwide obesity rates, Tennessee ranks 35 and reports some of the worst numbers in the country.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, nearly one-third of adults in the state are overweight or obese and a mere quarter of the same population report participating in intentional, ongoing physical activity at least three times per week.
According to Guillaume, Maryville College is honored to join the foundation in pursuit of building a healthier community.