SCOOBA — The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation has awarded a grant totaling nearly $265,000 to East Mississippi Community College to enhance the Wellness Center at the Scooba campus and provide an outdoor fitness facility that will be open to the public.
“There will be no charge to use the outdoor equipment,” EMCC Director of Wellness and Intramurals Kate McCarty said. “Members of the community can drive up and use the facility, which will also be open to EMCC employees and students.”
One possible location for the outdoor fitness facility is adjacent to the sand volleyball courts. Tentative plans include 20 pieces of outdoor exercise equipment, including four stair climbers for cardio workouts and 16 pieces of additional exercise equipment, including a bench press, sit-up bench and butterfly press to name a few.
Remaining grant funds will be used to make two part-time Scooba Wellness Center employees full-time workers and purchase stationary spin bikes and other equipment for the Wellness Center.
“We are very grateful to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for its support,” McCarty said. “These grant funds will make a difference in the well-being of not only the students, faculty and staff at East Mississippi Community College but in the lives of our community members as well.”
This is the second grant awarded to EMCC by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, with the initial $211,086 grant disbursed for the 2016-17 school year. EMCC is partnering with the Foundation to implement a health and wellness initiative funded by both grants.
“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is committed to supporting our state’s colleges and universities in their efforts to develop innovative health initiatives,” said Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation Executive Director Sheila Grogan. “We are proud to support EMCC in its efforts to provide wellness opportunities for the students, staff and community. This grant will help to build a culture of wellness on the EMCC campus, which will extend into the surrounding community and schools.”
Funding from the first grant supported the purchase of all new exercise equipment for the Scooba Wellness Center. The old exercise equipment was donated to East Kemper Elementary, West Kemper Elementary and Kemper County High School.
“The old equipment was dated but in good shape and will be used by faculty and staff at the elementary schools and by employees and student athletes,” McCarty said.
EMCC staff have also implemented wellness educational programs for members of the community, hosted family fun days on campus and visited area schools to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
Scooba Wellness Center memberships are also available to the public at a nominal price.
“When members of the public realized what we are doing over here, they came out in droves,” McCarty said. “We are averaging about 40 people in here during peak times. We have become a hotspot. It is really rewarding to hear members of our community come and say they have lost weight or their blood pressure has dropped since they began working out at our facility.”
Georgia Campbell of Geiger, Ala. is among area residents who signed up for a membership to the Wellness Center.
“I just love it,” Campbell said. “I hate to miss a class. I am motivated and dedicated to working out now. I am more confident and feel better since I started coming here.”
The Our Pride Making Strides initiative at East Mississippi Community College is in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is committed to supporting Mississippi's universities and colleges in implementing healthy eating and exercise initiatives that extend from the campus to the local communities and schools. Learn more about the work of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation at www.healthiermississippi.org.