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Making a Difference

The Wheeling area is a wonderful place to live. The quality of life here is second to none in the United States. We have outstanding schools, a world-class park system, fine medical resources, and great recreational opportunities. However, the warm, wonderful, helpful people are what make this area so exceptional.

Among those individuals who have contributed to the success of our community health interventions, nobody has given more than Judi Hladek. Judi exemplifies a selfless spirit in her personal and professional life. As the founder of the Wellness Bridge, a small and effective company dedicated to promoting high-level wellness, Judi and her associates work tirelessly to help others to live their lives more fully. From the hundreds of clients whom Judi has counseled, I have never heard anything but the utmost enthusiasm for her work. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds through good diet and regular walking. Judi realizes, however, that she is merely helping people to tap into their own inner strength. "I help bring out the balance and wholesome attributes that my clients have within," she said. Having a coach like Judi Hladek can help those attributes to express themselves.

Judi brings the same dedication to assist WHEELING WALKS as she does to her individual clients in the Wellness Bridge. Whether WHEELING WALKS needs someone to deliver prescription pads to physicians or to organize community walking programs, Judi is consistently ready to assist. She certainly qualifies as our most valued volunteer.

Judi Hladek continues to contribute to WHEELING WALKS. Beginning on September 9, she will conduct a walking clinic every Monday evening at the Wheeling Jesuit University track from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The focus will be on walking, not talking. Judi and her staff will offer walking tips to beginners and support for everyone present. The Wellness Bridge staff will answer questions about how to walk, when to walk, and how to eat a diet that will provide adequate energy and weight control. To sign up, call Judi at 740-633-4526. There is no cost or obligation.

We live in an era of heightened societal awareness about obesity. Therefore, people might want to come to Wheeling to see what can be done to make a difference. We experienced exceptional success with the low-fat milk campaign that removed more than ten tons of fat from the milk consumed annually in Wheeling. Now, we have demonstrated what can be done to promote physical activity through WHEELING WALKS. Our data demonstrate a 20% increase in walking, compared to the levels in Wheeling prior to WHEELING WALKS. Every week I receive a request from some other community requesting information about transforming a community's physical activity level.

Much remains to be done if we are to improve our community's wellness. Good health is a work in progress. Like a savings account, we need to make daily deposits to see the balance grow. Because of people like Judi Hladek, the growth is easier and richer.

Isn't it time you started walking?

Bill Reger Ed.D
WVU Department of Community Medicine

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