Voorhees College opens new 800-square-foot fitness center

Diana J. Smith

DENMARK, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – Voorhees College officially opened its new fitness center during a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Leonard E. Dawson Health and Human Resources Center.  

Currently, faculty, staff and general population students of Voorhees will have access to the new 800 square-foot center, which includes strength training equipment and other amenities. Community members will be able to use the facility in the spring, in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“As part of the next level of excellence, health and wellness is a priority and we want to make sure the center is available to faculty staff and students. I want to thank the Episcopal Church for the funding and share my appreciation to the city of Denmark in our partnership,” said Ronnie Hopkins, president of the college.

Charlene Johnson, vice president for student affairs and director of athletics, took the lead in developing the center and Calvin Williams, assistant professor and program coordinator of sports management, along with students worked with Johnson to make the center a reality.

“We are excited about moving to the next level of excellence as we open our new fitness center. A grant through the Episcopal Church along with the college helped to purchase state-of-the-art exercise equipment and renovate an existing space,” said Johnson.

Gerald Wright, mayor of Denmark, was also on hand for the ceremony.

“The history of Voorhees College and Denmark are parallel. We have a supportive relationship with each other. It’s always a good thing to be included,” he said.

Other program participants included Joshua Gayle, president of the Voorhees Student Government Association, and Bennie James, professor of religion, who provided the blessing and dedication remarks just prior to the ribbon cutting.

“Fitness and wellness play an important role in a student’s life. I am certain that at the beginning of the spring this facility will be of standing room only,” Gayle said.

“Our goal is to develop students holistically through strengthening the mind, spirit, and body. The mind, through the academic and mental health services that we offer, spirit through our faith in Christ and the Episcopal Church (chapel services), and the body through fitness,” said Williams.

Past and current students of sports management—facility management and design were helped with this project. Their input, ideas and creativity were brought out through weekly discussions and assignments that are visible in the fitness center, according to Williams.

“Having the fitness center in place will give the faculty, staff and students an opportunity to exercise while on campus. I believe it will be most beneficial to those who use it,” said Zay’Aunna Beard, a senior sports management student.

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