ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Joy Smith, dean of the School of Education and Business, and Jennifer Brown, associate professor of kinesiology at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), have clinched catalytic grant funding from VentureWell, a global nonprofit dedicated to supporting early-stage science and technology innovators. 

The grant aims to address pressing movement challenges within public health, particularly focusing on the obesity burden.  

“Thirty to 40 percent of the population is affected by this burden,” says Brown. “It is important to emphasize the importance of tackling mobility issues while also creating solutions to fostering a mindset of assisting people in movement regardless of body types. 

Under the project, “Movement Improvement,” students are set to collaborate with Sentara Albemarle Hospital and Old Dominion University (ODU) to explore avenues for advancing mobility and wellness. This initiative includes immersive experiences such as visits to a physical therapy department and engaging in biomechanics and biomedicine research at ODU.  

Smith emphasized the project’s primary goals, through students work with partners that will address what would need to be fixed to improve the quality of life.  

“The basis of their product will be framed on their solutions,” she said.  

She expressed that the project would include creating an environment conducive to addressing movement-related issues, expanding entrepreneurial ecosystems within STEM, and promoting cross-school collaboration. The initial success of the project has already made a significant impact.  

“We currently have 14-15 students who have signed up to partake in the project, majority of them being non-kinesiology students,” says Brown.  

“This project aims not only to generate ideas for healthy movement but also design thinking to a wider audience, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit within STEM disciplines.”