Community Leader: Janet Wojcik, PhD, FACSM

York County, SC (Oct. 2019) For the past three years, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina has honored individuals with the Community Leader Award to showcase those who go above and beyond to make their communities healthier places to live, learn, work, play, and pray. Being a community leader doesn’t require a master’s degree, an executive-level title, or a position of high visibility and public service. A true community leader can be found in the field getting their hands dirty and ensuring positive changes happen within the scope of work. This year, six individuals, who were nominated by their peers, have been chosen to receive the Community Leader Award. Each person has characteristics deserving of the award, including vision, confidence, integrity, adaptability, and courage. ESMMSC was proud to honor Janet Wojcik, Ph.D., FACSM, of Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC) and of the Eat Smart Move More York County leadership team, at the Leadership Summit for Healthy Communities on October 29th.

What is the nominee’s role in the community?

Janet R. Wojcik, Ph.D., FACSM, makes substantive contributions to the York County community through her professional, volunteer and personal efforts.  At Winthrop University, she is Associate Professor and Program Director in the Exercise Science program in the Department of Physical Education, Sport, and Human Performance. She is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and ACSM/American Cancer Society Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer.  She publishes articles, presents at regional and national conferences, performs peer review, and mentors undergraduate researchers. From 2015-2018 she was awarded the Bank of America Endowed Professorship from the College of Education to enhance her scholarship in her research interests. She serves as an Associate Editor for the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (TJACSM) and Chair of the ACSM ActivEarth Task Force.

Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) is fortunate to have her on the leadership team. She is Grants chair, contributing to many ESMMYC efforts, and has been Access to Healthy Foods chair (which ultimately transitioned to Food Policy Council, since she concurrently served for two years on the Catawba Farm and Food Coalition board as Co-Chair of the Food Policy Council) seeking to promote policy, system and environmental change. Janet also is active in ESMMYC active community environment initiatives and partner coalitions. These include the Bike/Ped Coalition of York County which is working towards an engaged York County where bicycling and walking are safe, accessible and preferred forms of transportation and recreation, and Impact York County, dedicated to empowering our community through health and wellness.

At ESMMYC, Janet worked directly with the City of Rock Hill and was key to the success of the Rock Hill farmers market. As Access to Healthy Foods Committee chair, Janet led a walkability assessment around the market, which was a food desert and had many lower-income residents with no car. The assessment led to the city upgrading sidewalks and improving pedestrian, bicycling and rolling access. In addition, Janet led Winthrop students as they conducted surveys at the market to see how to better promote the market. Janet also has worked with SNAP/EBT programs and helped to promote Healthy Bucks at the Rock Hill and other farmers markets.

In your opinion, why is the nominee a leader?

Janet uses her extensive education, expertise and experience to better her community. She leads through her work and by example. She genuinely cares about the public, and works tirelessly to ensure healthy eating and active living initiatives are completed properly. She is always willing to lend a helping hand. Janet goes above and beyond to not only help provide healthy food access, but to ensure it is provided for all. She is always thinking of the underprivileged areas and food desserts, and makes sure equitability is taken into every consideration. She has an amazing eye for detail and her organizational skills are unmatched. Janet is a joy to be around and always has a wonderful positive can-do attitude.

Janet practices what she preaches, such as implementing a healthy meeting policy, and nurturing a small garden at home. She works to promote community gardens and small farmers, and is a loyal customer, supporter and promoter of Catawba Fresh Market.

The Community Leader Awards were presented by HopeHealth, a patient-centered medical home with a focus on preventing and detecting illness and the early onset of disease, providing routine physical examinations, and promoting overall healthy lifestyles. The Community Leader Awards Luncheon was sponsored by the City of Florence.