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Flourish will train students to promote healthy lifestyles

Hayley Cunningham, creator of a Student Health Action Coalition project called Flourish, held an interest meeting at UNC on Wednesday night for students interested in volunteering for the project next year.

“Flourish is an organization or project hoping to reach out and help especially low-income individuals and families. This is because poverty magnifies problems and magnifies the barriers to leading a healthy lifestyle and finding well-being,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said the Flourish volunteers will teach healthy cooking classes through a program called Cooking Matters. They’ll also mentor Cooking Matters program graduates this summer.

“(Flourish) is trying to help people use the resources available to them — no matter how limited they might seem — to flourish where they are,” she said. “This is giving them the resources, skills and knowledge to access what is available to them and live a healthy lifestyle.”

Christina Chauvenet, a UNC Ph.D. student who worked on the Cooking Matters programs, said Cooking Matters is a part of the nonprofit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry movement. The movement is trying to end childhood hunger through education on shopping for and preparing healthy meals.

“The courses focus on behaviors — they don’t really focus on memorizing specific information ... It tries to focus on behaviors that people can go out and replicate in their real lives,” Chauvenet said.

Cunningham said the leading causes of death in Orange County and in the U.S. are often preventable just by leading a healthy lifestyle. She said the volunteer expectations are compassion, commitment, camaraderie and communication.

“I’m really hoping to help people change their lives. I think that there are so many gates are opened when you make good decisions regarding what you put in your body and how much you are using your body to move around,” she said.

Cunningham said the volunteer turnout at Wednesday’s event was more than she expected. About 20 to 30 people came.

“I’m really excited and pleased. I think we are going to have to work together actually to find ways for all of us to get involved and to make sure that we are having the impact on the community that we are capable of with the numbers that we had today,” she said.

Sophomore Raiselle Swick said she wants to be involved.

“There is a lot of false advertisement out there about what is good and what is bad, and recently they have done a lot of research on things, and I think it is important to get all of that information out there, particularly with grocery shopping,” she said.

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