STARKVILLE, Miss.--Many people make January goals to start healthy habits, but Mississippi State is marking the kickoff of "MSU on the Move" with an August celebration at the beginning of fall classes.
University administrators and leaders from the Division of Student Affairs' health and wellness department joined Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for a Monday afternoon [Aug. 20] ceremony on the Drill Field.
The Jackson-based foundation has awarded $562,485 to the "MSU on the Move" project to support programs promoting a healthier culture throughout campus and the surrounding community.
Grogan told the crowd in attendance that the foundation distributes targeted gifts to help Mississippians improve their health, with particular focus in schools, communities, and the state's colleges and universities. MSU has the advantage of partnering with a local city that was named the state's "2011 Healthiest Hometown," she added.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman was on hand in support of the "Move" initiative, which will include community programming.
Bill Kibler, vice president of student affairs, said the effort emphasizes several ongoing campus health programs.
"Our goal is to see Mississippi State as the healthiest campus in the nation," Kibler said, observing also that the campus provides an ideal setting for exercise. He urged students to take advantage of their college years to establish long-term healthy habits.
"Young adults make decisions that establish habits for the rest of their lives, like having good nutrition and exercise," the veteran administrator said. "If you do that now, and our goal with this program is to help you, then, you are more likely to continue to do that for the rest of your life."
Athletic director Scott Stricklin followed Kibler, stressing that the difference exercise makes in life is "unbelievable," with both physical and mental benefits. He noted that a walking track to be constructed around Chadwick Lake adjacent to the Sanderson Center will provide another exercise benefit for pedestrians.
"With the new walking track around the beautiful lake, I see this area becoming the 'backyard' for the university," Stricklin added.
Dr. Bob Collins, director of university health services, said a significant component of "MSU on the Move" is teaching people how to eat right, with cooking demonstrations scheduled on campus and in Starkville throughout the fall semester.
Collins urged students, faculty, staff, and community members to evaluate their habits and lifestyle.
"Identify which habits you need to improve, and change them," he said. "Identify things you are already doing well, and enhance them."
During the first two weeks of fall classes, "MSU on the Move" is providing free health screenings at various campus locations. Participants will learn their blood pressure, body mass index, glucose, cholesterol, and waist circumference.
Additionally, a nine-week program is designed to help participants work toward their health goals with resources including question-and-answer sessions with a registered dietitian and fitness expert and trainer.
Online resources include health articles and healthy app suggestions at www.msuonthemove.msstate.edu/.
"Everyone's goals are going to be different, but we're all in this together," said registered dietitian Mandy Conrad of the MSU health education and wellness department.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu/.