Fitness Center wears red for Heart Disease Awareness


Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women over the age of 25, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The Fitness Center, Wellness Center and the Public Health Society all teamed up Wednesday, Feb. 3 to start getting the word out about cardiovascular health by wearing the color red. Booths were set up in the Engleman Rotunda and student center food court to encourage students to sign up for the 2016 Greater New Haven Heart Walk, an annual fundraiser for the AHA. The walk will take place on Saturday, May 7 in Savin Rock, West Haven. President Mary A. Papazian is the event chair.

“We’re really excited about the walk this year because Southern is a signature sponsor,” said Emily Rosenthal, the coordinator of the Wellness Center. “We’re hoping to have hundreds of students and alumni at the event to show their support for heart health.”

Rosenthal and graduate public health student Andi Lolos stood at the student center booth last Wednesday to start gathering sign-ups from students for the Heart Walk. They also handed out pamphlets about heart health, the risk of smoking and vaping, and more information on why Southern is a smoke-free campus.

At their booth, a big bulletin board with pink and red hearts all over it read: “What is your why?” with answers underneath reading: “My great uncle is why,” “my family is why” or “my mother is why.” This was a spot for students who signed up for the Heart walk to add why they are walking and why they care about their health.

Rosenthal said that it it not too late to sign up for a team or create a new one on heartwalk.org since the walk still is not for a few months. Southern already has 11 fundraising teams, like Team Papazian, SCSU Public Health Society, NAACP and Residence Life.

A couple of the corporate sponsors for the walk are Griffin Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System. Jess Scibek, the assistant director of the Fitness Center, said that getting involved is a “great resume booster” for students interested in public health.

“This walk is a definitely a unique experience for anyone,” said Schibek. “Heart disease affects everyone and awareness is extremely important, but it’s also a lot of fun. Last year, students who signed up with Residence Life all came together in a van. Athletics on campus are always a big provider of volunteers every year too.”

The Heartwalk also falls on the Saturday before finals, and Schibek said that it’s a great opportunity for students to gather their friends on the beach and use that morning for their own mental health before the stress of exams kicks in.

The goal for the 2016 Greater New Haven walk is to donate $430,000 to the American Heart Association. According to AHA’s website, $159,805 has already been raised. The AHA distributed $10 million to Connecticut and roughly $8 million was distributed to places in New Haven like Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to Scibek.

AHA’s mission is to improve patient care, advocate for better health, reach out to populations at high risk for heart disease and stroke, protect the American children’s future against obesity, and raise awareness as a means of prevention. Their goal is to “reduce coronary heart disease, stroke and risk by 25 percent by 2010.”

Photo Credit: Taylor Nicole Richards

PHOTO CAPTION: (Left) Andi Lolos, graduate public health student and (right) Emily Rosenthal, coordinator of the Wellness Center.

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