MATCH History

MATCH started in one middle school by one concerned science teacher.
After negative health article in local newspaper, action was taken by school teacher.

MATCH Wellness

Changing lives for over 10 years!

The concept of MATCH began in 2006 at Williamston Middle School in Martin County, NC by a 7th grade science teacher, Tim Hardison. With a background in research, exercise physiology and cardiac rehabilitation, Mr. Hardison saw an article in the local newspaper that said Martin County residents had the shortest life expectancy in NC, almost five years less than the state average and the lowest of the 100 counties in the state. Martin County, a rural and economically challenged county, had high rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This led him to ask the question, “why?”.

Mr. Hardison taught his students to calculate their body mass index. Almost 58% were overweight or obese. As a result, he decided to teach wellness topics centered around healthy eating and physical activity in his 7th grade science class using a “body systems” approach. His focus was teaching students why it is important to take care of their health now and the impact it has on their future wellbeing. By the end of the year, more than 70% of his students had improved their weight status.

newspaper article

With the support of Martin County Schools and in search of external validation and expert opinion for expansion, Mr. Hardison reached out to East Carolina University and the Brody School of Medicine. Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, a pediatric healthy weight scholar and practitioner at East Carolina University, recognized the potential to change health outcomes in adolescents. Thus, in the Fall of 2007, began a partnership to build evidence for MATCH’s efficacy.

In the spring of 2009, the State Board of Education charged Mr. Hardison to expand MATCH to three additional school districts.

In 2010, ECU created a grant-funded position for Mr. Hardison to direct MATCH full-time and work towards program replication and expansion. ECU housed the program under the Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center (PHWRTC) at the Brody School of Medicine.

As a university-based research program, MATCH received generous financial support from the BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina Foundation, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Public Schools of North Carolina (NC) Board of Education, and the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union Foundation.

With Dr. Lazorick serving as the primary investigator, and with human subject research oversight by the East Carolina University Institutional Review Board (IRB), five peer-reviewed, scientific papers reporting the design, implementation, results and long-term outcomes of MATCH have been published and findings have been presented nationally at numerous pediatric and obesity scientific meetings. The sustained results of MATCH reported in two longitudinal cohort studies after four years are unprecedented among school-based interventions.

In 2014 MATCH was endorsed by the NC Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) to address obesity in rural areas and recommended by the NCIOM for inclusion by the State Board of Education for curricular change in NC middle schools.

In 2015, MATCH was reviewed by the Center for Training, Research and Translation ( at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a center that serves to systematically and objectively review and rate obesity interventions. MATCH achieved designation as a “research-tested” intervention, the highest rating. With this designation and being the only research-tested school-based program in the middle school curriculum/setting, MATCH became eligible for funding as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). This led to MATCH’s largest expansion yet to 35 schools in North Carolina.

Center TRT webpage

In 2018, MATCH Wellness, Inc. was launched to widely disseminate MATCH under a business model. MATCH continues to be funded at East Carolina University and implements the program as an Implementing Agency for the USDA SNAP-Ed program.

As of the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, the USDA SNAP-Ed program, with East Carolina University as the Implementing Agency, has expanded delivery of MATCH to 44 middle schools in NC at no cost to schools or students.

Motivating Adolescents with Technology to CHOOSE Health!

Since its inception in 2007, almost 40,000 seventh-graders have participated in MATCH.