Molly Fessler ’14 to Develop Wellness Program in Town Near Detroit with Funding from Davis Projects for Peace

Posted April 26th, 2012 at 2:04 pm.

While it’s not as well known as Detroit, the city of Ypsilanti, Michigan, just southwest of the Motor City, shares many of the problems that plague the birthplace of the American automobile industry.

Nearly 26 percent of Ypsilanti’s roughly 21,000 residents live below the poverty line, and the city suffers from many of the social ills that come with concentrations of poverty.

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Molly Fessler '14

“Fifty-five percent of the population of Ypsilanti is under the age of 24; they face an extraordinary set of challenges to their well-being,” says sociology major Molly Fessler ’14, who is from nearby Canton and has spent many years volunteering at The Corner Health Center (The Corner) in Ypsilanti.

With $10,000 in funding from The Davis Projects for Peace, Fessler hopes to do even more for the Ypsilanti community this summer by creating a fitness, yoga, and nutrition program called “Peaceful Minds, Peaceful Community” at The Corner. The program is aimed at giving young people the skills they need to create healthy lifestyles.

“Wellness is an essential component to peace. When young people feel strong, when they see what they can accomplish by relaxing their minds and strengthening their bodies, they’ll understand their potential. Only through the creation of healthy teens can we seek to form a healthy community,” says Fessler, who is a registered yoga and fitness instructor.

Fessler’s project will supplement programs already in place at The Corner and she’ll be designing the program with input from the clinic director, health education officer, director of youth services, and The Corner’s Youth Leadership Council, which is made up of teens from the area.

“I expect this to be a completely collaborative experience. I know about yoga, and I know about nutrition, but I don’t really know about the day-to-day challenges these young people face. I’m sure I’m going to learn as much as I’m going to teach,” says Fessler.

The initial program will be offered for eight weeks during the summer. There will be two classes each week. The first hour of each class will be dedicated to yoga or another form of exercise. The last half hour of each class will be a discussion of the day’s activity, logging progress in personal journals, and preparation of a nutritious recipe/snack.

Following the conclusion of the summer program, a peer-led exercise group will be established by the Youth Leadership Council at The Corner. Fessler plans to offer some of the Davis funding to help continue the program.

“By developing a program that will transition into a student-led group for fitness, we can create a system of peer support that will inspire participants to stay healthy and mindful on their personal journey to wellness,” says Fessler.

For more on applying for funding through the Davis Project for Peace and other summer funding open to Bryn Mawr students, visit the dean’s office summer funding page.

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