By Dottie Dewberry For the WPT

MABEN — Celebration of Health, Fitness and Nutrition, an intervention program at the West Oktibbeha County High School cafeteria, was enjoyed by a host of friends, family, neighbors, sponsors, leaders and other invited guests May 21.

Vice Mayor Pat Harpole made the official welcome followed by an opening prayer given by Franco Shields.

Rose Coffey, ringleader of this successful venture, is the instigator of this program called “Let It RIP” (Recreation Intervention Program). The program, which started in January, began with MSU Extension Service employees Bettie Miller and Frances Page setting up displays about nutrition. Participants were issued booklets titled “My Plate Meal Planner.”

Then Larry Guyton weighed all participants. Flora Jones Graise performed blood pressure and glucose procedures, which is recorded each week on each participant’s Wellness Check Record. Jacob Harris led the group in the Zumba exercise dance. The program ran for five months on a weekly basis. Participants were guided though meal planning and an exercise program.

On June 18, a new program will start: “Outrun Obesity.” The walk-a-thon will begin at Larry’s Restaurant and ended at the school. On May 21, the group held a celebration and a crowning of The Biggest Losers: Joann Ford and Raymond Poe.

Throughout the program, numerous awards were presented:

• The Family Unity Award was received by Bruce, Lisa and Tawanda Williams.

• The Christian Unity Award was received by Good Hope MB Church.

Special recognition certificates were handed out: Mary Jones received the Security Guard of the Year Award; Harris for stepping up to lead the Zumba exercise program; Guyton for doing the weekly weigh-in; WOCHS Principal Leonardo Thompson for providing the venue and pledging that the school would take 5 million steps next year; Tommy Johnson, who served as the superintendant of the 5th Sunday School and as liaison for the area churches that were participating in the program; Starkville United Methodist Church for donation of weight scales, BP cuff and glucose monitoring machine; MSU Office of Nutrition Education for providing the night’s meal (National Salad Month); and Maroon Volunteer Center for not only donating door prizes but also providing childcare services each week for participants.

Certificates were also awarded to businesses/organizations that donated door prizes: Dew’s Place, Friendly Florist, Joe’s Tire Service, Larry’s Restaurant, Maben Auto Parts, Springer’s Dry Goods, Trace-Way Restaurant, and 5th Sunday School, ABS Tax Service, Ability Works, Maroon Volunteer Center and Oktibbeha County Tobacco-Free Coalition.

The membership of a number of churches signed on for the five-month Recreation Intervention Program: Antioch, Bethel, Bluff Creek, Good Hope, Grove Chapel, Harpole, Johnson Creek, Maben First Baptist, New Bethel, Pleasant Grove Robinson, Pleasant Hill, St. Stephen’s and Traveler’s Rest.

Quite a few members from each church were present for the celebration.

For any program to be a success, there has to be many sponsors and support personnel: American Red Cross, Excel by 5, Family Centered Programs, Fannie Lou Hamer Center for Change, Maroon Volunteer Center, Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, MSU Cooperative Extension Service, MSU Office of Nutrition Education, North Mississippi Center for Higher Education Advancement, OCH Wellness Center, Oktibbeha County Tobacco-Free Coalition, OCH Regional Medical Center, Starkville District UM Church, the Controllers Generation II 4-H Club and WOCHS.

Coffey was awarded a token of appreciation from the participants for all of her work in overseeing the program.

Kim Harris and Barju Ware were also rewarded tokens for giving their personal testimony of weight loss. Harris said she had always been a big person but though her commitment she has gone from 210 lbs to 156 pounds. She had some words of advice: pray to God for commitment, do it day by day, during commercials stand up and do moving exercises and set small goals with eating — eat six small meals instead of three large ones.

Ware advised all to make a commitment to self, understand how the body and food work together, snack on nuts or grain cereal, avoid sweets and work out. If you do not work out, you must pay strict attention to your food intake.

Ricky Howard, who is the minister of music at Bethel MB Church, provided the program’s entertainment. He sang “I’ll Fly Away.” Then the Controllers Generation II 4-H Club sang “This Little Light of Mine.”

The meal, which was provided by the MSU Office of Nutrition of Education, was blessed by Minister Eddie Wooten.

Before the final remarks were made by Coffey, who encouraged everyone to get on board with “Outrun Obesity,” Guyton had a PowerPoint presentation of pictures of the different meetings and the participants throughout the series.