Building a Healthy Mississippi

Mississippi continues to make progress toward a healthier future, and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is facilitating this progress by providing the resources, funding and leadership needed to continue in our commitment to a healthier Mississippi.

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is proud to have provided grant funding to these or ganizations:

Building Healthy Communities

City of Walnut - 2015 Healthiest Hometown

Since winning a Healthy Hometown award for its population category in 2014, the Town of Walnut continued to make community healthy living primary and was named “Mississippi Healthiest Hometown” in 2015. The Walnut Health and Wellness Committee established goals to improve healthy living in Walnut by promoting health and wellness, providing exemplary leadership and engaging municipal stakeholders.

City of Oxford - 2015 Healthy Hometown

Home to the University of Mississippi, the City of Oxford’s health and wellness efforts extend well beyond the boundaries of the city and university through the leadership of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Committee and its community partner, Healthy Oxford. With students and alumni across the state and well beyond, health and wellness endeavors have a positive impact on the well-being of many individuals. Most recently, the RebelWell initiative in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation offered an all-encompassing approach to health education and wellness opportunities on campus and in the surrounding community.

City of Kosciusko - 2015 Healthy Hometown

In its first year as a Healthy Hometown contender, the City of Kosciusko is making significant progress in creating a healthy living and working environment for its residents. As a smoke-free community, its Healthy Hometown Committee members share the common goal of providing citizens with plenty of opportunities to make healthy living a priority.

City of Morton - 2015 Healthy Hometown

The City of Morton is making good health a top priority by providing programs that promote healthy living. Through the city’s website and local newspapers, the Morton Healthy Hometown Committee provides health and wellness information and encourages residents to utilize city parks, recreational spaces and walking trails.

Trinity Educators Development Corporation, Inc.

The primary focus of the Trinity Educators Development Corporation is to educate students about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the organization is educating middle and high school students in the Charleston and Coffeeville School Districts how to garden and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables. Participants also engage in physical fitness activities and are provided with opportunities for health screenings.

Building Healthy Universities and Colleges

Blue Mountain College

In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Blue Mountain College implemented the second period of the Blue Motion initiative. Blue Mountain College faculty, staff and students, and members of the community have opportunities to participate in physical fitness activities and nutrition classes with a defined process for obtaining health screenings and measureable outcomes. As part of the Blue Motion initiative, the college is also partnering with local school districts to support fitness and nutrition activities in elementary school classrooms.

Coahoma Community College

With a mission to build a healthy campus and community, Coahoma Community College implemented a health and wellness model that includes a tobacco-free policy and an environment that supports and promotes healthy eating and exercise. New fitness equipment, including treadmills and recumbent bikes, will offer exercise opportunities to the campus and community population.

Holmes Community College

Holmes Community College is making wellness awareness an integral part of campus culture though the Healthy at Holmes initiative. The college’s main focus is to improve the health of individuals living on campus and in the surrounding community by making campus walking trail enhancements to encourage walkability. The initiative also includes goals for implementing policies for a tobacco-free and electronic smoking device-free campus.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

In support of a healthy learning environment, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is providing opportunities for faculty, staff, students and the surrounding community to participate in healthy cooking classes and physical fitness activities. The college has plans to host community wellness events, including a 5K run, and to visit local elementary schools to engage students in activities that promote healthy eating and exercise.

Mississippi University for Women

Project goals for a second year grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for Mississippi University for Women’s Passport to Wellness initiative include plans for a campus tobacco cessation program and a community-wide “Couch-to-5K Challenge.” The university also plans to expand its elementary school partnerships to include all public and private schools in Lowndes County, providing school-site physical fitness opportunities and health fairs.

Pearl River Community College

The primary goal for period two of the Wildcat Wellness initiative at Pearl River Community College is to improve the overall health and well-being of individuals living and working on campus and in the surrounding communities and schools. The initiative includes a youth summer camp, a bike share program, one-mile fun-runs, cooking demonstrations and the installation of a low ropes course. Spin bikes will be added to the campus wellness center, and outdoor exercise equipment will be added to the outdoor walking trail area. The initiative also includes plans for promoting health eating and exercise to elementary school students through on-site classroom interactive games and activities.

The University of Southern Mississippi

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation partnered with The University of Southern Mississippi in 2013. With support from the Foundation, the university’s Health is Golden initiative is very successful, from the implementation of a campus-wide tobacco-free policy to the engagement of the community and local schools in wellness activities throughout the year. This initiative saturates the campus with health messages and identifies “Health Champions,” who make their health a priority and possess leadership skills to help build a healthy university. With the expansion of healthy meal options in the dining areas and guidelines for healthy vending products, students have a variety of nutritional meal options. USM is also taking a lead role in developing relationships with local school districts to develop health and wellness programs, with fitness events for elementary and middle school students in the Hattiesburg area.

The University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Park Campus

Interactive educational programming to create a campus culture of health and wellness that reaches the local community and schools is the goal of the Health is Golden at Gulf Park initiative at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park campus. The college will host campus and community group fitness classes in the wellness center and physical fitness challenges using the beachfront and green space that surrounds the campus. The college also has plans to host a youth summer camp and a “Family Fit Day” to introduce children and their families to fun physical activities and healthy food options for snacks and meals.

University of Mississippi

Period two of RebelWell, the comprehensive wellness program for the University of Mississippi, continues its mission of creating an environment of health and wellness on campus that extends into the surrounding communities and schools. On campus, employees will have opportunities to participate in health fairs, health screenings and physical fitness screenings with recommendations for health improvement. Partnerships with local school districts will be expanded to include additional elementary schools participating in Walking Wednesdays and Fresh Fruit Fridays. RebelWell will host a variety of physical fitness activities and events made available to the public, including a half marathon and 5K race.

Building Healthy Schools

Northside Elementary School - 2015 Healthiest School

The Clinton Public School District is a shining example of performance across the state and nation, maintaining a high level of excellence in all areas of children’s education. Because the district recognizes that health is an essential foundation to student achievement, it is emphasized as one of the district’s overall strategic goals. The Clinton Public School District has long held the motto – “Where Excellence is the Only Option.” Northside Elementary School is upholding this value by ensuring students and staff possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthy choices that promote healthy lifestyles. Northside Elementary School has increasingly implemented school health policies by ensuring healthy food and beverage choices are available at school events; monitoring school lunches through creative activities; encouraging students to increase their participation in physical activities; encouraging staff to improve their health; ensuring that the school environment is healthy, safe, and conducive to learning; encouraging the family and community to participate in school activities, and when possible, linking the health curriculum to practical activities.

Forrest County Agricultural High School - 2015 Healthy School

Situated on 320 acres of rolling hills and vistas, Forrest County Agricultural High School strives to provide the best opportunities for their students, staff and community. Since its creation in 1911, the school has seen many changes and has become one of the most outstanding schools in the state. Forrest County Agricultural High School recognizes the importance of more than just academics. The School Wellness Council meets every nine weeks to evaluate their wellness plan and to develop innovative programs to encourage students and staff to choose healthy lifestyles and implement creative teaching styles. The Horticulture program is the newest addition to the offering of agriculture classes at Forrest County Agricultural High School. Horticulture, known as the “Green Industry,” teaches students the necessary skill of growing plants in greenhouses or nurseries, and students have the opportunity to experience the daily challenges of maintaining sports turf on the Aggie athletic fields. They learn how to cultivate a vegetable garden and how to lengthen the growing season with the use of High Tunnel Technology. Students also learn how to manage fruit trees and how floral designs are fabricated.

Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School - 2015 Healthy School

Ocean Springs Upper Elementary, located on the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast, thrives on being a healthy place for students to learn and grow. The Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School culture includes health and wellness and believes that students who eat healthy and exercise achieve both academically and socially. Healthy nutrition is a priority at Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School. The school's nutrition manager provides healthy eating lessons to students during the popular Every Kid Healthy Week. Nutrition education is reinforced with hands-on learning through caring for the school’s garden. Students water, weed and learn how to prepare healthy meals using fresh produce from the garden. In health class, students learn how to prepare healthy snacks to take home to share with their families, and teachers encourage parents to provide healthy food options for classroom parties.

Highland Elementary School

In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Highland Elementary School implemented the CYCLE Kids Program for students in fourth and fifth grades. The Program uses the power of riding a bicycle to teach children the importance of physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle, while helping develop cardiovascular fitness and core strength.

Pontotoc Middle School

Through an innovative project called “Springing into Motion,” students at Pontotoc Middle School have the opportunity to learn about healthy foods through a school garden program and greenhouse. Fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from the garden are used for healthy meal preparation in the school cafeteria and sharing with the surrounding community.

Fitness Equipment and Health Curricula

In 2015, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provided grants to implement a fitness equipment and health curricula program from the Project Fit America organization in an additional 20 schools in Mississippi. The fitness equipment and health curricula program includes indoor and outdoor exercise equipment, physical education curricula, and onsite training for PE teachers. Schools receiving the program record BMI and fitness data, along with data related to absenteeism and disciplinary occurrences at the start and end of the school year for two years.

Physical Education Conference

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation hosted its 7th Annual Physical Education Conference bringing together 20 P.E. teachers from around the state. The teachers participated in an educational session and shared best practices for engaging students and making P.E. classes both exciting and effective. Participants also received indoor fitness equipment and curricula to enhance their schools P.E. programs.