Ocean Springs Upper is Mississippi's Healthiest School in 2016
Grant Awarded: $50,000
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 seven 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 Upper Elementary School is a true role model of health and wellness for schools across Mississippi. With the $50,000 grant award, the school plans to purchase playground equipment for students and fitness equipment for staff.
2016 Healthy School - Ocean Springs High School
Grant Awarded: $25,000
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 varieties of 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 measurable 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.
With the $25,000 grant award, Ocean Springs High School plans to enhance the school’s walking track, provide nutritional and physical wellness classes and purchase exercise equipment to provide a safe place on campus for students and staff to exercise.
2016 Healthy School - 28th Street Elementary School
Grant Awarded: $25,000
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.
With the $25,000 grant award, 28th Street Elementary School plans to purchase portable outdoor fitness equipment for students, including bike racks to encourage students to ride their bikes to school. For staff, the school plans to purchase cardiovascular fitness equipment to be installed in a newly renovated space dedicated to staff wellness.
About the Judges
Healthy School Awards applications are evaluated by a panel of known health and wellness champions from across Mississippi. Judges for the 2016 Healthy School Awards Program were:
- Joyce Yates, Ed.D., CHES, is the Director of Health Education and Wellness at Mississippi State University and the Project Director for the MSU on the Move initiative. Dr. Yates works daily with the university's Health Promotion staff and graduate assistants to create and implement wellness programs for students, faculty and staff. She has served in higher education for more than 30 years and is a past recipient of the Health Educator of the Year Award.
- Kate Borsig, Ph.D., Project Director of Outreach and Innovation for Mississippi University for Women, leads the university's Passport to Wellness initiative and is the past Director of the Mississippi Governor's School. She is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences, including the United States Department of Education's annual symposium.
- Don Hinton is the Executive Director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association. He has over 30 years of experience teaching school and coaching high school sports activities, and he helped establish the Mississippi chapter of the Star Sportsmanship Program to recognize outstanding high school athletes.
- Rosalyn Howard, Executive Director of the Mississippi Nurses Foundation, is a former health care workforce specialist with the Mississippi Hospital Association's Office of Nursing Workforce. She collaborates with schools of nursing, health professionals and health care employers to promote improvement in health care workforce initiatives.