A NEW ‘HOPE:’ New student organization promotes healthy lifestyles and exercise habits

February 19th, 2015




John Carroll University has welcomed a new organization to campus: Helping Others Promote Exercise, or HOPE for short. The group was founded this past November, and held its first event earlier this month.


The group includes juniors Feeroozeh Saghafi and Jacob Schriner, sophomores Leah Berdysz, Kareem Marrache and Jordan Conrad, and freshman Megan Kerrigan. The students founded HOPE to promote a healthy lifestyle for the student body.


Berdysz, president of HOPE, explained that the inspiration for this organization came from her passion for healthy living and fitness, along with her desire to help others become more passionate about their health.


“At Carroll, we offer intramural leagues and varsity sports,” said Berdysz. “But, this organization targets more than just the physical aspect of health; it also focuses on social and mental aspects. It allows for a greater variety of activities to participate in, and exposes students to things they may, otherwise, not have tried on their own. And to me, participation in social settings is just as important as physical and mental health.”


Marrache, vice president of HOPE, described the difference between participating in HOPE events versus other campus activities, such as intramurals.


“This organization differs in the sense that intramural sports are team versus team sports; whereas here, we are one big team and our opponent is our individual fitness goals,” said Marrache. “We also try to incorporate some service into the events that we do as well.


“This semester, we plan on taking part in a couple service activities, such as Danie’s Day, and visiting assisted living homes through our “Flex Your Heart” social component, where we help the elderly work on their mental fitness through games, and physical fitness through light physical exercise,” he said.


HOPE is currently working on hosting a one-time only Zumba Fitness and martial arts class to better educate its members on basic fitness, with the help of professional instructors. The group also hopes to incorporate something such as self-defense, boot camp or boxing basics into the martial arts class.


The group’s constitution states that “The purpose of HOPE is to help other students feel comfortable participating and motivating other group members to accomplish their fitness goals, while enjoying themselves and strengthening their bodies and relationships with others. We aim to support one another, while increasing fitness goals as a team.”


For those who are insecure about exercising in front of others, Marrache advised, “Don’t be embarrassed; even Mr. Olympia had to start somewhere. It’s like my brother once told me: ‘Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 20.’”


He continued, saying, “And for those who feel as though there just isn’t enough time in the day to get fit, you’re wrong. You can always find an hour to better your health, instead of watching Netflix and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram.”


The organization hosted its first event, Bikram Yoga, on Sunday, Feb. 8.


“We are really looking forward to seeing this organization take off and hopefully increase the awareness on John Carroll’s campus of how important physical, mental and social fitness are,” said Berdysz. “We also look forward to displaying how enjoyable fitness can be, especially when you have supportive individuals alongside cheering your name.”


Editor’s note: If you are interested in getting involved in HOPE, email president Leah Berdysz at