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Wilson Students Partner with Summit Health on Cardiac Program

Posted: April 21, 2011

4/21/2011 A partnership between Wilson College and Summit Health Inc. is helping prepare Wilson Exercise and Sport Science (ESS) students for future careers, while assisting cardiac patients with improving their overall health and fitness.
DATE: April 21, 2011
CONTACT: Cathy Mentzer, Manager of Media Relations
Phone: 717-264-4141, Ext. 3178

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – A partnership between Wilson College and Summit Health Inc. is helping prepare Wilson Exercise and Sport Science (ESS) students for future careers, while assisting cardiac patients with improving their overall health and fitness.

For the past two years, Wilson students majoring in ESS have helped out with Summit Health’s Cardiac Health Assistance for the Multiple Risk Factor Population (CHAMP) program. The twice-yearly program helps heart patients make healthy lifestyle changes through diet and exercise.

Summit Health dieticians provide patients with four weeks of nutritional guidance and education. During the fifth and final week of the program, Wilson students provide education, fitness assessments and exercise plans for the cardiac patients participating in the program.

“I think it’s a wonderful platform for our students to see how things work in real life,” said Anjuli Gairola, assistant professor of exercise and sport science and chair of the department. “They get to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom - how to assess people, test them, how to make an exercise program for them. It’s very different from what they learn in textbooks.”

The CHAMP, which is held every fall and spring at Chambersburg Hospital, began this year on April 5 and continues every Tuesday through May 3.

The real-world experience has made a big difference to Wilson senior Beth Bush of Pottstown, who has participated in the past two CHAMP sessions.

“CHAMP has influenced me to want to get into the medical field,” she said. “I love exercise and I love sports, but I wanted to be able to do more than just help patients learn how to exercise. That’s important as well, but to me, being able to help a patient come through something like a heart attack and return to their lifestyle is even more important.”

Bush hopes to become a doctor and has applied to medical school.

ESS majors typically find work in such fields as physical rehabilitation and allied health professions,

sport leadership and the fitness and sport industry, according to Gairola. “It’s a booming major,” she said. “Students can go to graduate school in allied health fields or they can go into jobs in rehabilitation, obesity clinics, wellness or the fitness industry.”

Wilson’s ESS department also houses a sport management major that combines business and the ESS curriculum that prepares them for careers in the sport administration and management industry.

Gairola, an exercise physiologist, initiated the Wilson partnership by reaching out to Summit Health about ways the health care corporation and her students could benefit each other. “I was trying to build a relationship,” she said.

Initially, her hope was for students to be able to use hospital facilities for observation. Gairola eventually met with Dr. Aylmer Tang, a local cardiologist who started the CHAMP program, and presented a plan for how Wilson students could assist.

“The partnership between the CHAMP program and Wilson College is a perfect fit,” said Cindy Green, Summit Health’s cardiac quality coordinator. “The participants love having the students there and the students enjoy the participants.”

When CHAMP participants come to the exercise sessions, Wilson students perform fitness assessments by having the patients do things like walking as fast as they can for two minutes, performing reaches to determine their flexibility levels, and using dumbbells to test their strength.

“Once they’re done with their fitness testing, we give them the results and go over the results with them,” Gairola said. “Then we give them a home-based exercise program we have designed that doesn’t require any fancy equipment. They can do it on their own. It’s a whole-body program.”

The exercise program, which was developed by two students and Gairola, is a combination of cardiovascular and muscular exercises for major muscle groups that people can do simply by using their own bodies or with resistance bands.

Wilson’s involvement with CHAMP has led to other opportunities with Summit Health. Wilson ESS students helped with Chambersburg Hospital’s Staff Activity Day in February and Gairola has spoken at a free community seminar on heart disease.

For more information, contact Wilson Media Relations Manager Cathy Mentzer at 717-264-4141, Ext. 3178, or


Wilson is an independent college with a proud history of educating women since 1869 through rigorous study of the liberal arts and sciences. Today, Wilson’s mission also includes women and men enrolled in adult degree and graduate programs. Guided by its Honor Principle and distinguished by a commitment to transformative student growth, Wilson College prepares all of its graduates for fulfilling lives and professions, ethical leadership and humane stewardship of our communities and our world.

Wilson, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 fields, teacher certification for college graduates and a master’s degree in education. This year, Wilson enrolled nearly 800 students from 21 states and 13 foreign countries.

Last Updated: June 30, 2011