Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 4
 
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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Local Resident Encourages Community to Join in Health and Fitness Endeavors

Dilshanie Perera

When Gail Everett was 15 years old, her mother, who was only 47, suffered a stroke and died. “I will never forget that devastation,” she said. “I was left to grow up much too soon, and I never want another young person to experience the pain that I did.”

Ms. Everett recalls her mother’s stroke happening just prior to the nationwide push toward healthier lifestyles, highlighting the dietary and fitness changes that can make a tremendous difference on individual health. “If I convince one person to make their health a priority in their life, I will know that my mother’s death was not in vain,” she said.

A longtime resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, Ms. Everett has made it her life’s work to boost community fitness and get people to engage in healthier habits. It’s a message that comes from the heart, and on February 5, Ms. Everett’s message will specifically target heart health.

The date coincides with National Wear Red Day, an initiative sponsored by the American Heart Association that draws attention to the dangers of heart disease, which remains the leading killer of Americans. In order to spread he message, Ms. Everett is leading a three-mile walk around town beginning at the Arts Council of Princeton at 12:30 p.m.

In case of inclement weather, Ms. Everett will lead a walk aerobics class inside the Arts Council’s third floor Solley Theater. People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to wear a red article of clothing and attend the fitness event.

The twin goals of building community and promoting the health of individuals can be seen in much of Ms. Everett’s work. In organizing the heart association event, she partnered with web- and locally-based Princeton Living Well (PLW), local eatery Olives, and the Arts Council, where she is a member of the Board of Directors.

Participants can sign up for the walk by e-mailing PLW at mail@princetonlivingwell.com or by calling (609) 924-2856, and Olives, which also participates in the PLW rewards program, has agreed to provide lunch to the walkers at a 15 percent discount. Attendees may order their lunches by filling out a form at the Arts Council prior to the walk, and the food will be available for pick up following the event. Menus can be found at www.olivesprinceton.com.

Emphasizing that the walk would be for fun and fitness, and that first-time exercisers as well as seasoned veterans are welcome, Ms. Everett assured, “Everybody can take their time.”

A certified fitness instructor, Ms. Everett teaches free community classes on Tuesdays at the Arts Council from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday mornings from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at the Henry Pannell Learning Center at the corner of Witherspoon and Clay Streets. All are welcome to attend. She thanked Arts Council Director Jeff Nathanson and Princeton Housing Authority Resident Services Manager Bonnie Glenn for their support and for the space to conduct classes, an important factor in keeping the sessions free for all participants.

Ms. Everett has even started up a fitness organization called Olivia’s Wellness Connection, named after her mother, in order to further her dream of improving the health of others.

Reaching out to minority communities as well as youth in Princeton is another goal. “Perhaps parents can be inspired to make health a priority in their lives, and make it a family event,” Ms. Everett said.

For more information, and a listing of free classes offered by Ms. Everett and others, as well as other fitness programs, visit princetonlivingwell.com.

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