The state of Mississippi was having a problem. Most were not living a healthy life. They were seen as the most obese state in the country. Benita Burt and Dr. Timothy Quinn knew they had to do something about it. As a result the Jackson Roadmap to Health Equity Project, Inc was formed.
Benita relays that it was clear that this generation of children was not as healthy as their parents. Why? Dr. Timothy Quinn who practices medicine in the State and a native says it is the most overweight state in the entire nation. (picture, fried catfish). He feels there are many deaths related to obesity which are unnecessary.
Encouraging a healthy life
Additionally, Benita asks why is it that African Americans can get sicker and pass away sooner than other groups of people. She wants to know what they can do to help and how they can get people into healthier lifestyles. Clearly, they were deciding that they were going to figure something out. IT WAS URGENT! They knew something had to be done about it.
Lance Fuller remarks that they should be about eating to live and not about living to eat. So Benita and her team scrutinized the system, the entire situation concerning health. They observed everyone from the bus drivers to the janitors and everyone in the school system who dealt with the children. They determined that the entire system should be talking about a healthy life. It became the project team’s mission to think about who else in the system might impact the children’s health the most, more than anyone else. They are convinced that food service workers throughout the Jackson Public School system had the greatest impact on the health of the children.
Kitchen staff moves to healthy life choices
The food service staff prepares food for them in the morning, and for lunch, or additionally, for daily snacks. This staff, in many instances, prepares meals for the children more than their parents. So consequently, they decided that the foodservice employees should be focused around their own individual healthy life first. Afterward, this change would filter down to the students. If they cook healthier choices for the students then the entire student body would benefit, as well as, the community. The food service personnel were asked if they had to exercise would they do it? The answer was a unanimous yes but that they did not have a location to exercise. So another step to improve the health of the students was to be accomplished.
What is the next step?
Because Ms. Burt and her team wanted to remove the barrier they established a gym so the foodservice employees would have a place to go. When that day arrived the Jackson Roadmap committee approached the foodservice group and said we now have a place, a gym, will you come? They replied absolutely yes!
Additionally, the end result will be as they become healthier themselves because they too eat the food they prepare, then, clearly, there is more attention being paid to the ingredients going into the food preparation. The food service staff decided that they were no longer going to fry food anymore and they were going to use less salt. (We all know the dangers of salt.) Benita feels that the food service workers are the “Stars”, frankly, in the school system, in terms of everyone’s health.
So, what is next? What do we need now, they asked? Ahhh, they got it. With improved food preparation, a gym for exercising in place, what about quality and new food choices? The light bulb went off…they needed a place where the food staff could access fresh fruit and vegetables also. Sooooo?
The farmer’s market
As a result, a natural choice would be a Farmers Market. And so it was. In conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture, who decided they wanted to participate in this project, and in conjunction with the Kellogg Foundation, the initiative began. Collectively, they were able to get two efforts up and running.
The next step was to invite the public sector and their community members to participate in some way with the “Let’s Get Healthy Now, Jackson” initiative.
The Wellness Director remarks that on one side they have the Fitness Center and on the other side the Farmers Market. So now they have Food and Fitness. The perfect combo for a healthy life.
The majority of the residents in the Jackson Community have never been a member of a health club, Community Supporter Robert Gibbs remarks. Not only have they never been a member of a health club, he suggests they have never been to a gym either because they don’t have one to go to.
A visit from the first lady
According to Benita, the best thing that ever happened because of this project was a visit from Mrs. Obama. She, too, was concerned about the health of the children across America. Her initiative “Let’s Move” was designed to get the children moving. Better health will impact the entire communities as well as the individuals. There is a need to educate everyone about the importance of better health through movement. It has to improve the communities, they feel.
But it won’t be easy, that is why they say a specific effort to educate the children and their families is imperative. One way will be to create little gardens with vegetables and fruit so they can see the food they eat grow from start to finish. The plan included planting and caring for the plants til harvesting. Wonder what the children were thinking as they saw the plants grow and produce a vegetable or fruit? As a result, Benita feels it makes them realize the food they eat is more than just what shows up on their plates, that fruits and vegetables are not bad.
It was agreed that a specific effort needed to be made to encourage each one to continue to eat healthy and add exercise to their lives each day. A walk, a run or a jog…just move. Make it a habit. Consequently, the dots are now connected. They have come full circle and what an accomplishment. From food to fitness – what a combination.
Bill Cooley, a social entrepreneur says that the thing that caught his eye was that this project seemed to have social and economic benefits. It wasn’t just doing good in the community but it was providing an economic benefit as well, the fact that the way she inserted fresh vegetables was impressive. In addition, they bought the fruits and vegetables from the local farmers which in turn fed community members who needed to be fed and that consequently, this change was making them healthier, which was very impressive to him.
A healthy life is more than just an event
The Roadmap Project has turned into an event, a mission not just a statement. It has changed the lives of so many. The project will impact the community for years to come and other communities can emulate the process to improve the life and quality of life of its citizens too. They now have a city back on track with the healthy life they need and deserve. Even now, Benita’s mind is going full speed, as she envisions cooking classes and more.
What she and her team accomplished definitely makes her “your everyday hero” in my opinion.
Dr. Quinn, the Family physician, stresses the importance of exercising, walking, running, jogging, and eating healthy. As a result, this lifestyle change can make a huge impact!! These activities are not costly, do not require a membership, a subscription, or money, just courage to stand up and take charge of one’s health.
He doesn’t expect us to be able to do it all at once but we can take it step by step. If you choose walking you can start with a few steps, then a few more next time, walking longer distances each time. And if you enjoy running then choose that exercise or jog. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what exercise you choose just let go of the fear and start one step at a time. Did you know that it is said that it is better to walk than to sit? Walking hydrates the joints which is very important.
Video Production: Rocko Productions
Review Written By: M. Cardinal
Date Written: May 4th, 2020
Healthy Life FAQs
A healthy life is to eat health and nutritious food, regular workouts, proper sleep, quit smoke and alcohol and staying happy and positive. All these together make a healthy life
– Don’t smoke.
– Be physically active every day.
– Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and fruits. Reduce or avoid unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats. Instead, use healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
– Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
– Challenge your mind.
– Build a strong social network.
– Protect your sight, hearing, and general health by following preventive care guidelines.
– Floss, brush and see a dentist regularly. Poor oral health may have many effects. It can lead to poor nutrition, pain, and possibly even a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Some of the benefits include increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness. reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint, and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.