May 062013


The Daily Reflector

The M.U.V.E organization along with some East Carolina volleyball players participate in active games during a Bulldog Fitness program with students from C.M. Eppes Middle School onThursday, May 2, 2013. (Aileen Devlin/ The Daily Reflector)

By Katherine Ayers

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Representatives from a number of East Carolina University departments have teamed up with a Pitt County middle school to offer a program aimed at helping students lead healthier, more active lives.

The Bulldog Fitness program at Eppes Middle School, started by ECU counseling graduate student Mike Engelhard who is interning at Eppes this semester, combined nutrition information with fitness activities to help students “achieve their goals, safely and naturally.”

Engelhard said he asked all grade-level teachers to identify students who could benefit from the program, interviewed each student and paired the group to nine students who met Mondays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. After the first few weeks the group size increased to 14.

“I was looking for students who could use a healthy boost in their life based on what they eat in the cafeteria and what type of lifestyle (the teachers) see in the classroom,” Engelhard said. “I also sought students whose behavior is on point and who would take something out of the program, those that wouldn’t just come play but who would actually participate and take it outside of a two-hour a week program.”

All of the sessions were led by ECU students who either had expertise in the areas they were teaching or who were student athletes.

During the Monday sessions, the students focused on nutrition while the Thursday sessions were all about fitness. Throughout the 12-week program, ECU student athletes from the football, volleyball and women’s basketball teams and those playing club Rugby led the fitness sessions.

Students from ECU’s MUVE, Motivating and Uplifting Via Exercise, student organization led the participants through their warmups. Victoria Loveless, president of MUVE, said the group’s purpose is to serve the community so this opportunity was perfect.

“We want to build bonds with kids through exercise,” Loveless said. “With building that bond through physical activity, you can be a mentor and role model for kids. You can show them someone really cares about them and their future.”

While they exercised, Loveless said they would talk to the students about higher education, self esteem, stress and the importance of goal-setting.

Eighth-grade participant Nyrie Williams said the nutrition aspect of the program was most beneficial to her.

“I learned how to eat better portions and how to manage my weight,” Williams said.

Asya Cole, another eighth grader, said she played basketball in the fall but used the program to stay in shape during her off season since she hopes to play next year at South Central. Her friend, Olivia Williams, came because she wanted to make herself healthier.

Seventh-grader Ditavious Howell said the program has inspired him to keep working toward his fitness goals.

“My dad is going to purchase a gym membership for me for the summer,” Howell said. “I liked the program because of the way it pumped me up and it was motivational.”

Engelhard said the program, which did not cost anything to run, could be expanded to other schools. He also said teachers have commented they have seen a change in their students.

“Some of the teachers have come up and told me in the cafeteria they’ve noticed that instead of the typical bag of chips the kids would been taking, they’ll have an apple or a banana,” Engelhard said. “One of the teachers told me she overheard a couple of the girls from my program talking to each other about going and working out after school on days we didn’t have the program, so they weren’t just working out in my program but on their own, doing their own thing.”

Since it is a fitness-focused program, Engelhard said they weighed the students only on the first day to get a physical fitness baseline and will weigh them again on May 23, the last day of the program. Although he does not have hard numbers in terms of weight lost, Engelhard said a student told him last week she has gone from a size 18 in February to a size 14 now.

Contact Katherine Ayers at and 252-329-9567.

via The Daily Reflector.


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