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March 20, 2004

ULM Partners with Outreach Organization in the Name of Good Health

One instructor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe is using her skill to help those in need. She is not using food, books, or clothes. Instead, the instructor is focusing on health. Through instructor Tommie Church, ULM is working in conjunction with "Rays of Sonshine", or ROS, a local volunteer-based rehabilitation center. Church has begun to provide ROS clients with an exercise program as a part of their weekly schedule. The goal of the project is to give the patients some help in their recovery by providing them with a program of cardio, aerobic, walking and group exercises.

"The program helps improve self-esteem, and their entire mental condition as well as helping their bodies grow stronger in defense of whatever effect an abusive lifestyle might have had on them," said Church.

Church started the program last fall as community outreach while studying at Texas Women's University. This semester she is working with an average of ten to twelve patients ranging in age from twenty to fifty years old. The patients come to ULM three days a week to participate in the program. Along with the exercise, patients are encouraged to keep a healthy diet, but are allowed to work within their own personal abilities to serve their individual needs.
"They are in a controlled situation here; they decide what they can or cannot do and how far they push themselves," Church said.

Along with providing the program for the patients, Church is planning on studying their progress in order to determine specifically what effects regular exercise has on the patient, both physically and mentally, and to see whether it would be beneficial to utilize the program for the long term.

Rays of Sonshine is a Christian-based drug rehabilitation center that offers residential rehab for patients seeking help with addiction. They offer a year-long residential program that gets patients involved in community service, church programs, and rehabilitation programs, preparing them to work full-time jobs by the end of their stay at the facility. The organization also offers a professionally staffed twelve-step program five days a week, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings three days a week. There is also Life Link, a program aimed at treating the spiritual and mental health of the patients from a Biblical perspective. For more information on ROS, visit the organization on the web at

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