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:

Wellness Coaches

Mississippi State University

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation has provided a grant to Mississippi State University (MSU) for the development of a Wellness Coach Internship Pilot Program to be led by Dr. Will Evans, head of the Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion areas at the university. Top-tier graduate students selected for this innovative program will complete required course work, followed by rotations at MSU’s health center. Then, they will be assigned to a Blue Primary Care Home to complete their internships as Wellness Coaches. Students completing the program will receive a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Health Promotion and Wellness Coaching.

Building Healthy Communities

Healthy Heroes Program

In 2018, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provided grant funding for period two of the Healthy Heroes Program in four municipalities. Uniformed police officers and firefighters received training by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools and health and wellness experts at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi 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 and firefighters visit their 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 Program, the Foundation provided each municipality with grant funds to enhance public health and wellness and promote community healthy eating and/or exercise.

Building Healthy Schools

Ocean Springs High School - 2018 Healthiest School

Ocean Springs High School won a Healthy Hometown Award in 2016, and continued its success by being named “Mississippi’s Healthiest School” in 2018. The school has made significant progress in enhancing its wellness goals, including offering free health screenings and fun fitness challenges with incentives for faculty and staff. The school adopted a “Healthy School Environment” policy in 2017 that resulted in high-calorie snacks in vending machines being replaced with healthier options, a two or three minute walking break provided during classroom instruction, and opportunities offered to participate in healthy activities before and after school two days each week. With the policy in place, Ocean Springs High School partnered with the Mayor’s Youth Council to engage students in council meetings to promote health and wellness. The school also partnered with the local YMCA to host weekly yoga classes onsite at the school for faculty, staff and students at no cost.

Oxford Intermediate School - 2018 Healthy School

In alignment with one of the overall strategic goals established by the Oxford School District, Oxford Intermediate School reinforces healthy behaviors to impact students’ academic achievement as studies show health and learning go hand-in-hand. Classroom teachers prepare lesson plans that incorporate physical activities, such as posting math puzzles throughout the hallway, to challenge students to work while moving from puzzle to puzzle. Oxford Intermediate School partnered with the University of Mississippi to encourage faculty, staff and students to adopt healthy lifestyles. The university’s health and wellness initiative funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and known as RebelWell, offers free fitness challenges and healthy cooking classes to faculty and staff. For students, RebelWell hosts health fairs onsite at the school and provides students with opportunities to taste a variety of fruits each week on “Fresh Fruit Friday.”

Poplarville Lower Elementary School - 2018 Healthy School

Poplarville Lower Elementary School thrives on providing an environment where students learn the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. With health and wellness as one of the Poplarville School District’s overall strategic goals, policies were adopted to integrate health education into all subject areas. The Poplarville Lower Elementary school garden program takes an instructional approach to teach across academic disciplines like math and science. Students learn to conduct structured experiments and communicate outcomes related to planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. A local chef volunteers time twice each month to come onsite and teach the students how to prepare the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden. Members of Wildcat Wellness, the health and wellness initiative at Pearl River Community College funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, volunteer time each week to lead students in fun fitness activities onsite at the school.