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 organizations:

Building Healthy Communities

City of Morton - 2016 Healthiest Hometown

The City of Morton won a Healthy Hometown Award in 2015 in its inaugural year as a contender. Led by Mayor Greg Butler and the Morton Healthy Hometown Committee, Morton continued its focus on municipal health and wellness and was named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown” in 2016 by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

City of Magee - 2016 Healthy Hometown

As a result of making wellness a top priority, the City of Magee received a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation Healthy Hometown Award in 2016. Led by Mayor Jimmy Clyde and the Living Well in Magee Committee, the municipality continues to be a role model for other communities looking to create healthy environments for its citizens.

Healthy Heroes

Funded through a grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation in 2013, the City of Laurel implemented the Healthy Heroes initiative to improve the health and quality of life among members of the police force, as well as educate K-5 students on the importance of healthy eating and exercise. The Healthy Heroes initiative in Laurel remains sustainable, and in 2016, the Foundation expanded the initiative and provided twenty police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters from across Mississippi with training sessions by the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Healthy Schools as to how to teach healthy eating and exercise lessons to students in grades K-5. With educational materials provided by the Foundation, uniformed police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters visit local K-5 schools teaching students the value of making healthy food choices and leading them in fun physical activities and a community walk at each school for students, faculty, staff and neighborhood residents. For their willingness to participate in the Healthy Heroes initiative, the Foundation provided each participating municipality or county with grant funds to enhance public health and wellness, including onsite fitness centers at police or fire stations, outdoor fitness equipment for city parks, community gardens, enhancements to local farmers’ markets and other items promoting community healthy eating and/or exercise.

Building Healthy Universities and Colleges

Alcorn State University

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation began working with Alcorn State University in 2011 to implement healthy eating and exercise programs that extend from the campus to the local communities and schools. With support from the Foundation, the Braves for Fitness initiative has provided opportunities for individuals to engage in physical fitness classes, nutrition counseling and health education. The university adopted a smoke-free policy and has curricula in place to ensure all incoming students are educated about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

Coahoma Community College

Coahoma Community College is making health and wellness an integral part of campus culture by adopting a smoke-free policy and focusing on improving the health of individuals living on campus and in the surrounding communities. The primary goal for period two of the Fit for Life initiative is to develop relationships with local elementary schools to promote healthy eating and exercise through onsite classroom activities.

East Central Community College

In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, East Central Community College is nurturing a culture of health and wellness through the Warrior Wellness initiative. The college is creating a sustainable healthy environment by adopting a tobacco-free policy and making walking clubs and fitness classes available to individuals on campus and in the community.

East Mississippi Community College

A comprehensive health and wellness program at East Mississippi Community College that includes a tobacco-free policy, is designed to support individuals making lifestyle modifications to improve wellness and reach fitness goals. The Our Pride Making Strides initiative in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation includes new fitness equipment, individualized health planning, healthy vending and dining options, a youth summer camp and exercise opportunities for students in the Kemper County Public School District.

Mississippi College

Outdoor exercise equipment and a disc golf course installed along the campus walking trail are new enhancements to Mississippi College as part period two of the Wellness for Life initiative. The college has a tobacco-free policy, and the cafeteria combination ovens and the campus farmers’ market provide individuals with healthy nutrition options. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation partnered with Mississippi College in 2014 to create an environment of health and wellness to make the campus and the Clinton community a healthy place to live and work.

Mississippi Delta Community College

With a mission to build a healthy campus and community, Mississippi Delta Community College implemented the Delta Fit initiative with grant funds provided by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. With a tobacco-free policy in place, the college provides individuals with cardiovascular and strength building opportunities through fitness classes and exercise equipment. Healthy cooking demonstrations are conducted on campus and the community, and a youth summer camp is available for elementary students.

Mississippi State University

In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Mississippi State University began period three of the MSU on the Move initiative to continue to build a culture of health and wellness on campus that extends into the Starkville community and schools. The college implemented a smoke-free policy and a “Health Heroes” program to recognize and reward students, faculty, staff and administrators for being health and wellness role models. Outdoor fitness equipment installed at the Chadwick Lake Walking Trail supports individuals on campus and in the community with enhanced fitness opportunities. The health-focused “Youth Dawgs” summer camp is available for elementary students, and the college is working in the Starkville and Oktibbeha County public schools to educate students in grades K-5 about the importance of selecting fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snacks.

Mississippi University for Women

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation continues its support of the Passport to Wellness initiative at Mississippi University for Women. The initiative, created in partnership with the Foundation in 2013, includes innovative health and wellness programs and resources that impact individuals on campus and in the surrounding communities and schools. A tobacco-free university, Mississippi University for Women hosts healthy cooking classes that utilizes locally grown fruits and vegetables with information about healthy recipes. The college also works with the Columbus and Lowndes County school districts to provide a summer healthy teaching certification program for area educators.

Northeast Mississippi Community College

With grant funds provided by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for period two of the FitNEss initiative, Northeast Mississippi Community College enhanced its wellness center with new exercise equipment and a volleyball court, expanded the availability of fitness classes and added a bike share program. Outdoor fitness equipment added to the walking trail and kitchen equipment upgrades at the wellness center provide opportunities for community fitness programs, exercise classes and healthy cooking demonstrations. “Camp Roar,” a summer youth camp focused on healthy eating and exercise, is available for students in grades K-5.

Pearl River Community College

Pearl River Community College continues to lead with way in campus, community and school health and wellness programming through the Wildcat Wellness initiative. Funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation in 2011, the tobacco-free college is building a sustainable health and wellness model by certifying and training employees and students to lead fitness classes and healthy nutrition education sessions. The college implemented an incentive program for health role models, and desk cycles and standing desks are available for employees wanting to make health improvements. A safe bike lane enhances the bike share program, and the “Go Cub Wild” youth summer camp provides elementary students with healthy lunch and snack preparation demonstrations with tasting opportunities.

The University of Southern Mississippi

For period three of the Health is Golden initiative at The University of Southern Mississippi, outdoor adventure opportunities are available to individuals on campus and in the community, including canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. The university is taking a lead role in developing relationships with local school districts to develop health and wellness programs, with fitness activities and events for elementary and middle school students in the Hattiesburg area. The Health is Golden initiative, created in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation in 2013, continues to build a campus culture of health and wellness that extends into the surrounding communities and schools.

The University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Park Campus

The goal for period two of the Health is Golden at Gulf Park initiative is to provide health and wellness education and physical fitness activities to individuals living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With grant funds from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the university is implementing walking, running and biking group events and activities along the beachfront sidewalks and trails surrounding the campus. Health fairs for local K-12 schools and a youth summer camp for elementary students provides opportunities for students to engage in healthy eating and exercise activities.

University of Mississippi

Period Three of RebelWell, the comprehensive wellness initiative for the University of Mississippi in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, continues its mission of creating a culture of health and wellness on campus that extends into the surrounding communities and schools. On campus, employees and students have opportunities to participate in healthy eating and exercise classes, health expos and health screenings with recommendations for health improvement. Partnerships with local school districts are expanded to include additional elementary schools participating in Walking Wednesdays and Fresh Fruit Fridays. For the City of Oxford and the Lafayette County communities, RebelWell hosts a variety of free exercise classes through the “Saturday Pop Up Fitness” program. The University of Mississippi is a smoke-free campus and making plans to adopt a tobacco-free policy in the near future.

Building Healthy Schools

Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School - 2016 Healthiest School

Since winning a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation Healthy School Award in 2015, Ocean Springs Upper Elementary School has made significant progress in enhancing its health and wellness goals. The Ocean Springs Public School District employs a school health coordinator to provide oversight to the district’s health and wellness plan and the school health council. 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. Outside of the school’s regular physical education curricula, students have the opportunity to participate in fitness clubs ranging from disc golf to volleyball to lacrosse. Faculty and staff have access to an on-site fitness room that is available 7-days per week and includes cardiovascular and strength building exercise equipment. At almost any time of the day or evening, students, parents, staff, faculty and members of the community can be seen utilizing the school’s walking trail.

Ocean Springs High School - 2016 Healthy School

Ocean Springs High School is committed to health and wellness in alignment with one of the overreaching strategic goals established by the Ocean Springs School District. The school’s aquaculture program is currently the only one in the state and offers students hands-on experience harvesting fish and growing fresh vegetables and herbs for preparing healthy meals. The greenhouse design and maintenance program provides students the opportunity to grow more than 15 various fruit trees yielding produce for use in the school’s cafeteria. Ocean Springs High School is the first in Mississippi to form an inclusive cheer team for students with special needs. The school’s athletes engage in fun physical activities with these students, and measureable outcomes have indicated improved upper and lower body strength and reduction in BMI. Ocean Springs High School also engages in shared use activities with the City of Ocean Springs and has received recognition for its health and wellness efforts from the mayor and city leaders.

28th Street Elementary School - 2016 Healthy School

Located on the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast as part of the Gulfport School District, 28th Street Elementary School thrives on providing an environment where students learn the importance of healthy eating and exercise. Students at 28th Street participate in a variety of fun exercise activities during daily physical fitness programs that include cardiovascular and strength building exercises. The school recently adopted a healthy snack policy with guidelines for fundraisers, classroom parties and other school events. Faculty and staff wellness includes opportunities to utilize a dedicated fitness room with stationary bicycles, treadmills and elliptical exercise equipment. For students and their families, 28th Street hosts events focused on health-related activities including Zumba and healthy cooking and tasting demonstrations. These events also provide participants with health screening opportunities for blood pressure and BMI.

Bell Academy

In the inaugural year of the Building Healthy Schools Grant Program, Bell Academy received a grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for demonstrating its commitment to creating a healthy school environment. The Building Healthy Schools Grant Program was developed for schools employing a certified physical education teacher or health education teacher who is a member of the Mississippi Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD). With grant dollars provided by the Foundation, the school’s physical education department is implementing new activities to improve students’ cardiovascular and flexibility fitness levels.

Mantachie Elementary School

With grant funds provided by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Mantachie Elementary School added new curricula and fitness equipment to its physical education program. Known as “Operation Jump Start,” the initiative is designed to encourage healthy lifestyles through health and nutrition awareness and education, including a school garden and non-traditional school physical fitness classes such as yoga, archery and shuffleboard.

Pontotoc Middle School

Through an innovative school garden initiative called “Springing into Motion,” students at Pontotoc Middle School have the opportunity to learn about healthy nutrition with tasting opportunities. Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown, harvested and used for healthy meal preparation in the school cafeteria and sharing with the surrounding community. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation funded the initiative in 2015, and in 2016 expanded the program to include new fitness equipment and physical fitness classes for school faculty, staff, administration and students. In partnership with the Foundation, Pontotoc Middle School is also developing an e-model for school gardens that can be replicated at other Mississippi schools.

Physical Education Conference

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation hosted its 8th Annual Physical Education Conference bringing together 20 elementary and 20 middle school physical education teachers from around the state. The two-day conference was held for elementary teachers on day one and middle school teachers on day two. The teachers participated in educational sessions 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.

  • Agricola Elementary School
  • Alcorn Central Middle School
  • Bayou View Middle School
  • Bel Aire Elementary School
  • Bettye Mae Jack Middle School
  • Blackburn Middle School
  • Bramlett Elementary School
  • Charleston Middle School
  • Churchill Elementary School
  • Coldwater Attendance Center
  • Columbus Middle School
  • Delisle Elementary School
  • Drew Hunter Middle School
  • East Central Middle School
  • East Sunflower Elementary School
  • Goodloe Elementary School
  • Guntown Middle School
  • Kirksey Middle School
  • Kosciusko Junior High School
  • L. T. Taylor Intermediate School
  • Lafayette Middle School
  • McLaurin Elementary School
  • Milam Elementary School
  • Nichols Middle School
  • Oak Grove Middle School
  • Oak Park Elementary School
  • Oxford Middle School
  • Port Gibson Middle School
  • R. H. Long Booneville Middle School
  • Ruleville Middle School
  • Sebastopol Attendance Center
  • Southside Elementary School
  • St. Patrick Catholic School
  • St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School
  • Stringer Attendance Center
  • South Delta Middle School
  • Susie B. West Elementary School
  • Tunica Middle School
  • Ward Stewart Elementary School
  • Wilkins Elementary School