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

City of Ridgeland - 2018 Healthiest Hometown

Since being named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown” in 2013 by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the City of Ridgeland continued to make healthy living a priority and was again honored by the Foundation in 2018 as “Mississippi's Healthiest Hometown.” The Ridgeland Health and Wellness Committee established goals to promote health and wellness, and the city took steps to create and adopt ordinances and policies to support healthy living.

City of Forest - 2018 Healthy Hometown

In its inaugural year as a Healthy Hometown contender, the City of Forest made significant progress in creating a healthy living and working environment for its residents. Members of the Forest Healthy Hometown Committee share the common goal of providing citizens with opportunities to make healthy living a priority, and their efforts earned the municipality a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation Healthy Hometown Award for 2018.

Mississippi Children's Museum - Meridian

The Mississippi Children’s Museum is achieving a goal to expand its geographic reach from Central to East Mississippi with a grant fund sponsorship provided by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. Once the Meridian-based museum is open to the public, children in East Mississippi will have access to exciting new learning experiences with imaginative exhibits and programs that incorporate health and nutrition in the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation “My Best Me” gallery. The gallery will create a hands-on learning experience for children to explore healthy eating and exercise concepts and provide space to host programs designed to increase health literacy among children and their families.

Healthy Heroes Program

In 2018, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provided grant funding for the Healthy Heroes Program in 17 municipalities, bringing the total number of program participants to 22 cities and one county. 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. The cities funded for the Healthy Heroes Program in 2018 include:

Building Healthy Universities and Colleges

Blue Mountain College

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation began working with Blue Mountain College in 2013 to implement healthy eating and exercise programs that extend from the campus to the local community and schools. With support from the Foundation, the Blue Motion initiative has provided opportunities for individuals to engage in physical fitness classes, nutrition counseling and health education. The college also has curricula in place to ensure all incoming students are educated about the importance of living healthy lifestyles.

Coahoma Community College

Coahoma Community College is making health and wellness an integral part of campus culture thorough the Fit for Life initiative. The goal of the initiative is to improve the health of individuals on campus and in the surrounding community and schools through fun nutrition and physical activities including group fitness classes, cooking classes, bike-a-thons and youth summer camps.

East Mississippi Community College

With health and wellness part of its overall vision and mission, East Mississippi Community College is dedicated to creating a sustainable health and wellness culture on campus that extends into the surrounding communities and schools. In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the Our Pride Making Strides Toward Optimal Health initiative provides opportunities for individuals to participate in health and wellness education sessions and activities. To encourage participation, an awards recognition program is in place to reward those who make progress in improving their overall health and well-being.

Mississippi University for Women

A comprehensive wellness program at Mississippi University for Women, known as “Passport to Wellness,” is creating a healthy campus culture that reaches into the surrounding communities and schools. Incoming freshmen and transfer students begin their MUW college experience with required classes focused on the benefits of healthy eating and exercise with biometric screenings provided throughout their college careers. The Passport to Wellness initiative also includes a summer “Teachers Wellness Institute” offering training to K-5 teachers on how to incorporate health and wellness into daily classroom activities.

Mississippi Valley State University

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation partnered with Mississippi Valley State University in 2014 to implement the Valley in Motion initiative. The successful initiative includes the adoption of an enforceable campus-wide tobacco-free policy, the launching of a campus bike share program and the engagement of community members in wellness activities held throughout the year. The campus is saturated with health messages and identifies “Health Champions,” who make their health a priority and possess leadership skills to help build a healthy university and community.

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.

All Star Physical Education Teacher

Byhalia Elementary School was recognized by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for outstanding efforts by the school’s physical education teacher, C.B. McClatchy, to improve the health of students. Due to demonstrating marked improvement in student health and fitness levels through the use of Project Fit America fitness equipment and curricula that was funded by the Foundation, the school received Foundation grant funds to further enhance its P.E. program.

Cleveland Central High School

Students at Cleveland Central High School now have the opportunity to participate in physical fitness classes, customized exercise programs, one-on-one fitness training and healthy nutrition education. The “Fit Chics” initiative in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation was created to increase health literacy among female high school students while encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Hills Chapel School

In partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Hills Chapel School implemented the “Healthy Living!” initiative. Designed to encourage healthy lifestyles among administrators, faculty, students and parents, the initiative provides health education with opportunities to engage in healthy cooking lessons and fun physical fitness events and activities.

Madison Station Elementary School

Madison Station Elementary School received a Building Healthy School Grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for demonstrating a 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’ fitness levels.

School Garden Program

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation partnered with Pontotoc Middle School in 2015 to implement a school garden program. The successful program was integrated into all aspects of school life and played a central role in a cultural change that included a holistic focus on educating the whole child through an edible garden. The Foundation worked with Pontotoc Middle School to develop the School Garden Model which provides best practices to Mississippi schools interested in starting their own school gardens with grant funding provided by the Foundation. In 2018, the Foundation hosted a School Garden Workshop for K-12 school leaders, providing an opportunity for attendees to interact with leaders from the Pontotoc City School District and offering Foundation grant funding opportunities to implement school garden programs. Schools awarded grant funds for school garden programs in 2018 include:

Physical Education Conference

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation hosted its 10th Annual Physical Education Conference bringing together 21 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.

  • Alexander Junior High School
  • Bay Springs Elementary School
  • Bay Springs Middle School
  • Biggersville Elementary School
  • Bovina Elementary School
  • Burnsville Middle School
  • Chickasaw Elementary School
  • Clarkdale Attendance Center
  • Coleman Middle School
  • Collins Elementary School
  • Crestwood Elementary School
  • Fifth Street School
  • Germantown Middle School
  • Grace Christian Elementary School
  • Hawkins Middle School
  • Holly Springs Junior High School
  • Horn Lake Intermediate School
  • Indianola Academy
  • Key Elementary School
  • Lafayette Upper Elementary School
  • Lester Elementary School
  • Linwood Elementary School
  • Lipsey Middle School
  • North Panola Middle School
  • North Pike Elementary School
  • North Pike Middle School
  • Okolona Elementary School
  • Pearl Junior High School
  • Perry Central Middle School
  • Picayune Junior High School
  • Potts Camp Attendance Center
  • Redwood Elementary School
  • Saint Francis of Assisi School
  • Salem Attendance Center
  • Shannon Elementary School
  • Shannon Middle School
  • Timberlawn Elementary School
  • Tri-County Academy
  • Tupelo Middle School
  • Woodley Elementary School