COLUMBUS, Miss. -- A community-wide health initiative targeting lifestyle choices related to diet, physical activity and stress management was launched on The W’s campus today.


Passport to WellnessThe program, sponsored by The W and in partnership with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and area schools, targets residents of Columbus and Lowndes County, including students, faculty and staff of The W. It also includes Franklin Academy, Joe Cook Elementary and Annunciation Catholic School.

Passport to Wellness, funded by a $252,000 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, will enable participants to make healthier lifestyle choices through a series of educational and community events emphasizing health and wellness.

“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is continuing to support health and wellness initiatives that improve the health of Mississippians in every area of our state,” said Sheila Grogan, executive director, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “We applaud the efforts of Mississippi University for Women in developing a health and wellness culture on campus that will extend into the surrounding communities and schools.”

“Connecting campus to community to deliver services will better utilize the current resources available and identify possible gaps in services,” said Kate Brown, director for the Center for Creative Learning located on campus. “This will be accomplished through events held quarterly on campus, in local schools and out in the community, utilizing the expertise of W faculty and community practitioners.”

The program will have five primary dimensions, according to Brown. Those areas include a wellness program for W students, a wellness program for W faculty and staff, training for physical education teachers, a wellness program for elementary students and community wellness events.

Specifically, the monies from the program will be used to build a circular walking trail at Franklin Academy, as well as to purchase new physical education equipment.

Katherine Roberts, Passport to Wellness program manager, said, “To really make an impact in improving individual’s health and overall wellness, the effort needs to truly be community-based.

“By creating a culture of health, people are more able and apt to make healthier choices. That is the overarching goal of Passport to Wellness--to not only focus on one particular segment of the population, but to incorporate all members of the community, beginning with young elementary students, who are just learning to make their own choices regarding health, to the oldest members of the community,” she added.