Pascagoula and Moss Point have been selected as a Mississippi Healthy Hometowns in the fifth year of the Healthy Hometown program, presented by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The selections were based on the cities’ applications, as judged by a panel of known health and wellness champions from around the country. Pascagoula and Moss Point will each receive a $25,000 grant from the Foundation to support ongoing community health initiatives.
Pascagoula Health and Wellness Efforts
Pascagoula proudly became one of the first Mississippi municipalities to adopt a Complete Streets policy to ensure roadways are designed for the safety of walkers, runners and cyclists. The policy is making a difference in the community as heavily traveled Beach Boulevard along the Beachfront Promenade has seen a significant increase in the number of pedestrians and exercise enthusiasts. Local businesses appreciate the value of healthy employees and many provide a variety of work site wellness programs.
Weekend fun is never far away as the Pascagoula School District sponsors kid-themed “Healthy, Wealthy Super Saturdays” featuring interactive fitness activities and hands-on learning for parents and children. These popular family events are free and open to the public as they focus on the health and well-being of children while challenging their motor skills, balance, and overall fitness levels. Through its Healthy Hometown Pascagoula webpage on the city’s website, the community can access information about farmers’ markets, healthy recipes, fitness and recreation groups and local health clubs and fitness centers.
Moss Point Health and Wellness Efforts
In 2013, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation partnered with the City of Moss Point on the “Walk, Run or Bike” initiative to promote physical activity. This initiative includes goals to create awareness of the importance of daily exercise and to encourage citizens to lead healthy lifestyles by taking control of their own health and wellness conditions. Total fitness is the goal of city employees as they participate in free workout sessions twice each week at the Riverfront Community Center.
Led by city leaders, including the fire chief and other city officials, these fitness classes build camaraderie and motivate employees to make positive health choices. Healthy nutrition is one of the overall strategic goals of the Moss Point School District. School administrators and faculty members collaborate to promote an environment focused on healthy eating and physical activity which are essential for students to achieve high academic standards. The city encourages residents to shop at the farmers’ market by distributing weekly flyers to local businesses that include discount specials and recipes for adding fruits and vegetables to every meal.
The City of Brookhaven was selected as “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown,” and the Town of Walnut was selected as a “Healthy Hometown” in its population category (5,000 or fewer residents). Brookhaven will receive $50,000 to continue its wellness efforts while Walnut will also receive a $25,000 grant. The winning municipalities were announced today at the Mississippi Municipal League Annual Conference in Biloxi.
“These communities are setting a positive example for others around the state by taking a dynamic approach to developing local health programs and initiatives,” said Sheila Grogan, Executive Director, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “We believe these grants will enable them to provide even more support to citizens in the years to come.”
Judges for the 2014 Healthy Hometown Awards included Mike Kuczala, coauthor of the Corwin best-seller The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement; Linda Langston, Linn County, Iowa Supervisor, county Board of Health member; and LaQuandra Nesbitt, M.D., MPH, Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.
The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation established the Healthy Hometown Awards in 2010 to encourage communities to promote healthy lifestyles and to provide financial rewards to those who have demonstrated the most progress. The grants are used by the communities to further ongoing community wellness initiatives. Healthy Hometown winners are chosen based on select criteria, including having a tobacco-free ordinance, helmet laws and more.
To learn more about the Healthy Hometown Awards and this year’s winners, visit the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation website at www.healthiermississippi.org.