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H.U.B. City Steps Ushers in Next Phase of Program PDF Print E-mail
Friday, January 29, 2010
Contact Van Arnold, 601.266.5568   

The H.U.B. City Steps walking program officially moved into a higher gear with a kickoff reception held on Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Cultural Center in downtown Hattiesburg.

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree joined several representatives from The University of Southern Mississippi as well as walking coaches and participants at the reception, which provided an update on the program’s status.

H.U.B. City Steps is a collaboration between the City of Hattiesburg and the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems at Southern Miss. The project, funded by a $2 million National Institutes of Health grant, is designed to promote and engage Hattiesburg residents in physical activity and healthy food choices. Forming community partnership and social networks, the program focuses on preventing hypertension by involving residents in regular walking activities.

“Southern Miss took the lead role in this and we were happy to become a partner,” said DuPree. “It’s a win-win situation across the board. It’s no secret that Mississippi has a problem with obesity, especially childhood obesity and a program such as this is one is an example of how we can make a serious effort to reverse that trend.”

Hattiesburg resident Betty Epting has agreed to serve as one of 26 coaches who will act as liaisons between the program participants and the research staff. Epting, who walks 28 miles a week, could not contain her excitement during Thursday’s reception.

“I truly believe that this is something the Lord has led me to do,” said Epting, who oversees a group of between 12-14 walkers. “At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to really get so involved but then I heard the Lord telling me, ‘you’re the perfect person to be helping others start a walking routine.’

“The great thing about walking is that it doesn’t cost a cent. You don’t need special clothes or equipment. And there are so many walking tracks around Hattiesburg that you won’t have trouble finding a place to walk.”

Approximately 260 participants have signed up for the program which will enter the exercise phase during a launch ceremony on Feb. 13 at Vernon Dahmer Park in Hattiesburg. This walking phase will consist of six months of coordinated activities including enrollment, health assessments, education sessions, motivational interviewing sessions and walking events.

“It’s been a long 15 months, but it’s all starting to really come together,” said Vickie Reed, intervention coordinator with the Southern Miss Department of Nutrition and Food Systems. “The predominant theme throughout this whole process has been community involvement. And that was particularly evident by the turnout for our reception.”

Dr. Kathy Yadrick, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems, echoed those sentiments. “The response has just been tremendous thus far from everyone involved,” she said. “We’re basically where we had hoped to be as far as participation for this initial walking phase. Now we’re ready to take it to the next level.”

For more information about the H.U.B. City Steps program, call 601-266-5091 or 601-266-5377. 
Betty Epting
Vickie Reed, left, intervention coordinator with the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems at Southern Miss, has been working with John Brown, assistant to Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, on the H.U.B. City Steps walking program. (Office of University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at


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