Women’s Health Week Debuts March 25


In an effort to take academic theory out of the classroom, Carrie Ellis-Kalton, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Maryville University, (right) has declared the week of March 25-30 “Maryville Women’s Health and Well-Being Week.” Plans for the week include a health fair and a 5K run to benefit a local women’s organization.

Ellis-Kalton, who is teaching a class on women’s psychology this semester, says the event is “absolutely a collaborative effort” by Maryville students, staff and faculty. The inspiration behind the Women’s Health week came when Ellis-Kalton decided she was ready to do more than simply lecture about the effects of social support and exercise on metal health. “Being a counseling psychiatrist, I’m always on my soapbox in my classes, talking about social support and exercise,” said Ellis-Kalton. “I have seen the difference for individuals in my clinical and academic studies. I’m always talking to students about the importance of the two and how they greatly contribute to psychological well being, especially for college students under enormous amounts of stress.”

Ellis-Kalton decided she would share her enthusiasm for exercise and academics with her students outside the confines of class. “I am a bit of a runner myself, and I was ready to take my theory out of the classroom and try and be an example,” she said. “I told myself to get off my soapbox – take this out of the classroom and run with my students; engage them with me.” Ellis-Kalton said the week’s events will give her students an opportunity to implement their service learning projects on topics as diverse as depression and athletes, inter-partner violence, and postpartum depression.

Ellis-Kalton envisioned more, however. “I tend to think big,” she said, “so I thought, ‘Why not have a health fair?’ Why not have some benefit; why not do some charity?” The run subsequently developed into a community-wide event to raise money and awareness, and Ellis-Kalton began looking for organizations that corresponded to her class goals. She settled on Women’s Support and Community Services, a local organization benefiting female victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. “I began approaching local businesses about participating or donating,” said Ellis-Kalton, adding that she has received donations from the Maryville University Bookstore, Dierbergs, Einstein Bagels, and a massage therapist.

“I wanted to turn this into an event,” said Ellis-Kalton. “I don’t want people thinking, ‘I can’t run, I can’t come and be in this.’ I want it to be fun and festive.” She is also impressed with the community response and cooperation she has received. “This has been a team effort of students and staff, and it really showcases Maryville. It shows the creativity and energy; the possibilities when we come together for a cause, and how exciting it can be,” she said. “I’m amazed how it grew from a little idea to a community event. I’m really encouraging people to get on teams and visibly distinguish themselves, by wearing similar hats, for example.”

The March 25 run will begin at 1 p.m., preceded by a health fair at noon. Held in conjunction with St. Luke’s Hospital, the fair “will include information about things like blood pressure, smoking cessation, alcohol and drug abuse, personal safety, and designated driving,” said Ellis-Kalton, adding “there will also be freebies!” Radio station 106.5 The Arch will do a live broadcast from Maryville’s campus from noon to 2 pm. On Wednesday, March 28, representatives from Women’s Support and Community Services will give a presentation in the University Auditorium at noon. The event will end with Ellis-Kalton presenting a the check to the organization. She also will acknowledge the winners in the 5K run.

Ellis-Kalton is appreciative to her students and colleagues for their enthusiasm, help and support. “Jennifer Henry, Pam Culliton, Bobbi Carothers, and Linda Meyers have specifically been extremely supportive and helpful with the planning and development of this event,” she said. “I would also like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Health Professions, and the Pysc-Soc Club, which paid for the T-shirts with MSG funds.”

Between 200-300 people from the Maryville and St Louis communities are expected to participate in the run. The first 200 participants to register will receive a free T-shirt, in addition to various giveaways during the course of the event. Registration is $5 for students, $20 for non-students, $5 for children older than 12, and free for children under 12. Registration will commence on campus two weeks prior to the event, and will include online registration. Prizes will be awarded to the faculty/staff and student teams who register the most participants. Ellis-Kalton and her students also will appear on Channel 5’s “Show-Me St Louis” on March 22.

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.

– by May Ashour, student writer, Marketing and Public Relations