Building a Healthy Mississippi

Ridgeland is Mississippi's Healthiest Hometown in 2018

Grant Awarded: $50,000

Ridgeland, MS

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. The city strengthened its smoke-free policy to include an amendment that prohibits the use of electronic smoking devices. Other adopted ordinances and policies include an enforceable helmet ordinance for children and adults, a Complete Streets policy to promote community “walkability” and a policy allowing all city employees to exercise during business hours.

An edible community garden is in place for Ridgeland residents to grow and harvest fruits, vegetables and herbs. City garden volunteers coordinate with elementary schools in Ridgeland to make parents aware of the garden and invite them to select a garden bed for their family to cultivate. The city also developed a horticultural therapy program for senior citizens providing opportunities for participants to engage in physical activity while growing their own produce.

Through the Healthy Heroes Program funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, uniformed police officers visit schools located within Ridgeland’s municipality with grades K-5 and teach students the value of healthy eating and exercise. The police officers lead students in fun physical activities, teach a lesson about the importance of making healthy food choices, and lead a community walk at each school for students, faculty, parents and neighborhood residents. For the police officers’ willingness to participate in the Healthy Heroes Program, the Foundation provided grant funds to purchase health and fitness equipment and implement a school garden program at the participating schools.

The City of Ridgeland plans to use the $50,000 grant award to develop a community bike share program, enhance the multiuse trail with mile markers and maps and connect the trail to additional schools and neighborhoods.