ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The University of Rochester Medical Center is kicking off the new year with its “Promote Health. Prevent Cancer.” campaign that helps folks make healthy lifestyle changes.

Sparkle Wells is a health project coordinator at URMC and is a class facilitator for the campaign, which is in partnership with the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Classes for the eight-week program begin this month and are offered both in-person and over Zoom.

“We talk about nutrition and fitness and just trying to get a jumpstart on the New Year and being healthy,” Wells said. “We talk about different things such as portion sizes, sugar salts, how to maintain healthy weights. And it’s not like a lecture, it’s more of a group discussion. We talk about how these things apply to your daily life. And we offer a little bit of fitness at the end of the course.”

Wells explains a program like this where it is structured as a group initiative can be better for some folks because participants won’t feel like they’re on the journey alone.

“It’s always nice to have that group support and just someone cheering you on and helping you along the way to your goals, but also just being able to talk about challenges that you’re having, and seeing what other challenges people are having and how you guys can overcome that together,” Wells said.

Wells also says the small changes these classes can help facilitate will have positive long-term effects.

“Just the basic education of learning how to read your nutrition labels, definitely helps you to be healthier and helps you to reduce certain health outcomes or even prevent them, including cancer. It’s really a small lifestyle change that leads to positive health outcomes,” Wells said.

Wells said for her, the success stories mean the most.

“I love it when students come back and say, ‘Hey, I’ve started paying attention to the nutrition labels. And I realized I was consuming this much sugar daily. And that’s way too much sugar and they start reducing that sugar intake.’ So it’s a really helpful experience,” Wells said.

For more information on Promote Health. Prevent Cancer. including how to get involved, click here.