Dr. Tatum on Wellness, page 4...
I read a fascinating book this summer called Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain that talked about the physiological impact of exercise on the brain. The quick summary is this, “Exercise is ‘Miracle Gro’ for the brain.” I told our entering students at our opening convocation, “whether you are interested in Aqua Aerobics or Zumba, Fitness Walking or Yoga, Tennis or Tai Chi, there is an activity that you can get involved in, and you should – not just because it will reduce your risk of diabetes or heart disease or breast cancer, or lift your spirits if you feel depressed, but it will also improve your academic performance as well.
It will help you focus, improve your memory, and just might make the difference in your effort to achieve your personal best!” There are so many good reasons to change our behavior – no good reason not to!
So, what can the educational community do? Not just provide a great education so the next generation of health care professionals so can get into graduate and professional schools, though that is very important. I believe the most important thing we can do is start a wellness revolution.
Let me take you back to 1881. When Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles, the founders of Spelman College traveled through the South after the end of the Civil War, they found an illiterate community of former slaves in desperate need of education. Recognizing that a community of educated women could be transformational, they set a literacy revolution in motion when they opened their school in 1881. One hundred thirty-one years later, another literacy revolution is needed in the African-American community – wellness literacy – and a community of educated women – and men - can again be transformational.
The need is urgent.
This is, and must be, a serious concern for us at Spelman because it is our population – young Black women – that are among the most at risk for negative health outcomes. We as an institution – committed to educating the whole person, mind, body and spirit – have an opportunity to change this epidemic. And we are taking that opportunity seriously, through the development of a creative Wellness program. Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, says “Let’s move,” and so do we. Students are starting to participate in activities like Aqua Aerobics, Zumba, Fitness Walking and Yoga, to name just a few. There is a chapter of “Black Girls Run” meeting weekly on our campus, and we are embarking on an effort to create a state-of-the-art health and wellness program that is incorporated into our physical education curriculum, so it will touch every student.