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Tupelo Organizations Looking To Reverse State's Unhealthy Image

Posted by Allie Martin | August 14, 2012 / 04:19pm | Local News, Education, Health
TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) - A report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that the Magnolia State has the highest proportion of obese adults nationwide.  But there are those in Northeast Mississippi trying to change that.

More than three years ago, HealthWorks! opened its doors to kids.

Since then nearly 100,000 people have visited the childhood
health education center.  During two hour field trips, students have
fun learning about healthy habits.

"Our data shows we are improving knowledge and we have children that go home and share what they have learned at Healthworks with parents, school staff," says Kathy Tucker of HealthWorks!

As coordinator of outreach and innovation at HealthWorks!,
Tucker also spends a lot of time visiting area schools and their
health councils.

"All throughout Mississippi, health councils are mandated at every
school, but it's been something that has not been fully implemented
the way it was intended. So going in and helping them work with needs
assessments, making wellness plans and implementing changes they would like to make toward school health has been eye opening for us ," she said.

Tupelo's Chief Executive also promotes healthy lifestyles.  The
Mayor's Healthy Task Force has implemented a number of programs
designed to encourage residents of all ages to exercise regularly and
have healthy diets.

In fact, Tupelo was recently named the healthiest city in the state,
by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi.  Now, task
force members say they want to help other cities. West Point is about to kick off its own version of "Health on a Shelf" to offer healthy snack choices in convenience stores.

"We are working with the mayors in the nine municipalities, through
the Council of Governments, trying to take some of the successes we've had with the healthy Tupelo initiatives and share those successes with different municipalities in Lee County and form a healthy Lee County Task Force," said Donna Loden, of the Mayor's Healthy Task Force.

Officials know it will take time to reverse course when it comes to
healthy habits statewide. But  by sharing their methods with other
cities, they believe a healthier Mississippi is not only possible, but
will one day be a reality.
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