For the last eight years, a team of researchers from the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition has been working with faith-based communities to bring awareness to and lower the rate of obesity. Through the Building a Healthy Temple program, they have been able to do just that.
“Building a Healthy Temple has brought this holistic idea of health to the San Antonio community,” said Summer Wilmoth, senior coordinator for Building a Healthy Temple. “By incorporating both physical and spiritual health, the program has brought to light the impor-tance of a healthy lifestyle to prevent chronic disease.”
The program promotes the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in 25 churches around the San Antonio area. Many of these churches are in underserved and underrepresented communities considered most at risk for obesity.
“Our work is really about reaching people where they are,” said Dr. Meizi He, professor of health and director of Building a Healthy Temple. “We have been using the existing support systems in each of the churches to help the community make behavioral and lifestyle changes.”
These churches are given access free of charge to a variety of resources and activities, such as health sermons, health Sunday school, nutrition education classes, and physical activity classes. So far, more than 4,500 people have been served through the program.
“It’s extraordinary to watch each church we work with take ownership of the program, grow, and sustain the health initiatives,” said Wilmoth. “You witness a shift in the church vision and hear testimonials from congregants about how the program changed their lives. I cannot imagine anything more rewarding.”
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Community Connect magazine is an annual publication produced by the Office of the Vice President for Community Services (VPCS). The mission of Community Services is to extend UTSA beyond its campuses into San Antonio and South Texas through public service, extension, outreach and community education. This mission is accomplished through a variety of programs and initiatives, some of which are showcased on this website.Make a Gift