From left: Director, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation Wade Overstreet, Cleveland Mayor-elect Billy Nowell, Dean of Delta State University’s College of Education Dr. Leslie Griffin, Superintendent of Cleveland School District Dr. Jacquelyn Thigpen, and Delta State University President Dr. John Hilpert
Building a healthier Delta State University and a healthier Cleveland is the ambitious goal of a new collaborative effort announced today. The "Healthy Campus/Community Initiative” will be led by Delta State’s College of Education, which has been awarded a $700,000 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
Through this program, Delta State will transform the culture of its campus and become the flagship health and wellness university in the state. The goals of the initiative are not limited to Delta State, however. Delta State’s faculty and students – working together with the Cleveland School District, the City of Cleveland, the medical community and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation – will work to improve the health and wellness culture of Cleveland and Bolivar County.
"This is an exciting opportunity for Delta State and Cleveland, and we believe we will make a difference in the lives of the people who study, work and live here," said Delta State President, Dr. John M. Hilpert “We look forward to helping lead the way to a healthier Delta as a whole.”
Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education, oversaw the development of the initiative and its application to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
“The College of Education takes seriously the University’s commitment to ensuring a healthy future for the Delta community,” said Griffin. “This generous award from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation positions us to work with campus, school, and community partners to build a campus and community culture of wellness while addressing the unique health challenges of the Delta. The dedication of DSU faculty and staff, as well as Foundation representatives, has resulted in a plan of action that is indeed powerful.”
Components of the initiative include the construction of a community walking track on the Delta State campus, construction of Project Fit America activity equipment at all six elementary schools in the Cleveland School District, biometric screenings for Delta State students and faculty at the beginning and end of the fall semester, development of a new health curriculum and training for area teachers, and the development and distribution of nutritional toolkits to area schools. Physical education students from Delta State will also provide support for the Project Fit America equipment in the schools.
Wade Overstreet, director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, commented that the initiative is aligned with the Foundation’s efforts to build a healthier Mississippi.
"Delta State University has the resources, leadership and vision to make a healthy difference in a part of our state that truly needs it,” said Overstreet. “Our foundation is very pleased to have developed a project with the university that will change not only the campus but all of the community. The partners are in place to make that happen and we are confident that we will succeed."
Newly elected Cleveland Mayor, Billy Nowell, looks forward to the implementation of the initiative.
“This initiative provides the opportunity to develop a better, healthier Cleveland,” said Nowell. “The program has the full support of the city and we look forward to working with Delta State and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to ensure that this program is successful.”