West Virginia University students uncover weight-loss stories

Inspired by The Shape We’re In, WVU multimedia students produced their own stories on the subject in 2012: a look at PEIA’s Weight Management Program, a woman who had bariatric surgery, and a woman who decided to become a dietician while she lost weight.

“The state’s obesity epidemic was a natural fit for us,” said MaryKay McFarland, project director.

Four West Virginia University students crafted videos on topics associated with “The Shape We’re In” series. This is a scene from the first video (see below).

Four years ago, former Charleston Gazette multimedia editor Mary Kay McFarland took a job teaching video and photography to West Virginia University journalism students. “I wanted to help them tell stories in several different ways — print, video and photography,” she said.

As director of the West Virginia Uncovered project, she has helped students tell stories about West Virginians from Welch to Wheeling. In 2012, they linked with the Charleston Gazette’s “The Shape We’re In” project. “The state’s obesity epidemic was a natural fit for us,” McFarland said.

“We talked about the fact that the Gazette was not just covering the negative part of the story, but also wanted stories about people who are finding their own answers. The students were really excited about that approach.”

Four advanced students met with “The Shape We’re In” coordinator Kate Long to develop their ideas. Using high-definition cameras, each student spent many hours to produce a three-minute video. Below are four videos produced by McFarland’s students.

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Last year, Nancy Robinson had gastric bypass surgery after her doctor told her that, at 350 pounds, she was taking too much insulin to have a baby safely. The surgery was the first step for the 29 year old, who works out most days a week to reach her the rest of her health goals through diet and exercise. In this video by Shay Maunz,  Robinson talks about changes she has made in her life.

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West Virginia University student Courtney Tyner struggled with her own weight and health, then “I studied the research and became passionate about it, and I realized it was something I could do to make a difference.” Now she’s studying to be a dietician.  In this video by Brianna Swisher,  Tyner talks about her newfound and personal passion for the work she does.

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Mallory Bracken talked with a West Virginia mother who realized she can’t really expect her son to get fit and be in shape if she doesn’t do it herself. “I told my family a lot about nutrition, and they started getting interested,” her son said. “That makes it a lot easier for me.”

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PEIA Weight Management Program member Martha Failinger gives viewers a look at the benefits of West Virginia Public Employees Agency’s fitness program. Program participants average 18.4 pounds weight loss per year while they improve their overall fitness. “Just having that extra push from somebody who is looking out for you has been really great,” says Failinger said, in this video by Evan Moore.


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