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James Washington

Outstanding Islanders

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The Fight for Community Fitness

Alumnus and fitness expert James Washington is using his knowledge and skills gained through his education at the Island University to provide preventative methods for health related issues among youth in the Coastal Bend.

 “There’s no secret that our city struggles with obesity and diabetes, even within our youngest community members,” said Washington. “It is important to provide citizens with the necessary tools to avoid health issues early in their lifetime, and that is what I hope to do.”

Washington, who graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Sports Management from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in December 2012, recently accepted the position of Health Promotions Coordinator for the City County Health Department. During his time as a student, Washington worked with Islanders athletes as an Assistant Strength Coach Intern and developed an understanding for the importance of youth fitness. As a Health Promotions Coordinator, Washington is responsible for promotions and public outreach for a new youth fitness program called MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do-it!). This government-funded program aims to reduce obesity and diabetes within the Coastal Bend by providing children and their parents with preventative tools to avoid these common diseases.

“If we continue to educate community members, we hope that individuals will begin making lifestyle changes,” said Washington. “By nature, we will not see progress or success from our programs until several years have passed.”

MEND includes two types of programs, the 2-5 year old program and the 7-13 year old program. Each program is driven by a family initiative, meaning its curriculum targets both children and their parents, discussing topics such as nutrition, age appropriate physical activity, and triggers that entice overeating.

MEND hosted its first round of programs in March 2014, with a goal of identifying at least 500 individuals who could benefit from participation in the program. Washington and his colleagues exceeded that goal, targeting more than 600 interested people and hosting more than 500 during the first wave of programs which included a total of 14 in Corpus Christi Independent School District, and three programs in the Taft Independent School District.