Dear Editor and Community Partners:
Healthy U of Delmarva began in 2002, thanks to the wonderful generosity of civic leader Mitzi Perdue. She saw a need to promote healthier lifestyle choices in our community - and she was determined to help those who wished to change their lives. In 2007, she entrusted Salisbury University to take her efforts to the next level by providing additional resources including a new home, student assistants and other academic connections. I sincerely thank Mitzi for her leadership and for including the campus in her vision for improving the health and well-being of our greater community.
Like much of our world, concepts of health and wellness have evolved over the past decade. After many successes, Healthy U of Delmarva must change, as well. Although its programs are coming to an end, our hope is that the commitment to a better way of living for Eastern Shore families, for which Mitzi has been such an outstanding advocate, will continue.
Some of Healthy U’s notable accomplishments include:
- Touching the lives of 11,000 members across the Delmarva region;
- Partnering with 140 organizations to offer support, resources and discounts to members;
- Presenting over $180,000 in annual HUEY Award prizes and community grants;
- Operating free summer camps for over 150 area children;
- Garnering recognition with the International Journal of Exercise Science through an article written by Dr. Scott Mazzetti of SU’s Health and Sport Sciences Department;
- Providing student intern support for STARS and MAST achievement programs at 14 elementary and middle schools in Wicomico County;
- Sponsoring health-related community events, including the Healthy U 5K and Health Fair, and the Wicomico Half Marathon; and
- Fostering many individual and organizational successes, such as Salisbury Middle School’s program in which staff used the Healthy U model with incentives, competitions and educational tools to create a health-conscious culture for all.
As Mitzi Perdue wrote in her autobiography, I Didn’t Bargain for This!, Healthy U’s success has been calculated by “measuring tapes and scales,” but more importantly by the many personal stories she has heard about positive life changes. Thanks to her efforts, people on the Eastern Shore are much more aware of the benefits of maintaining healthier lives and promoting wellness in the workplace. Fitness centers are available on every corner and at every hour thanks to this awareness and the resulting demand which has created many more fitness resources and spawned the birth of the 24-hour fitness center. And from calorie counting to pedometers to exercise routines, these days, “there’s an app for that.”
After August 31, 2012, those who are interested in continuing efforts to lead healthier lives are encouraged to sign up for fitness programs with partners including the Mid-Delmarva Family YMCA or other excellent gyms in the area. Helpful information also is available through Peninsula Regional Medical Center, with its health fairs and online wellness tools, the Wicomico County Health Department, or on Web sites including www.letsmove.gov. In addition, SU will continue outreach efforts through academic programs including exercise science, health education, nursing and our employee wellness program which we will launch in the coming months.
Again, sincere thanks to Mitzi and everyone in the community who embraced a partnership for better living through Healthy U of Delmarva.
Janet Dudley-Eshbach, Ph.D.
This letter appeared in The Daily Times on Sunday, July 22, 2012.