A new exercise program being initiated by Starkville”s Healthiest Hometown Committee begins next weekend at six locations around town.
Steps on Saturday will kick off March 13 at 9 a.m. at the city”s Sportsplex, M.L. King Park, Mississippi State University”s Sanderson Center, the Starkville High School track, the OCH Wellness Center and with the Boardtown Runners group. The Boardtown Runners meet at 6:30 a.m. at 608 Colony Drive, near the end of South Montgomery Street, but citizens who want to walk the neighborhood loop can still show up at 9 a.m.
Oktibbeha County Hospital employees and committee members will be at each location to sign in participants, said Kelly White, clinical and outpatient dietitian at OCH. As part of the program, participants will be asked to keep track of the distance they walk each week and those distances will be recorded at the end of each session.
At the end of the six-week program, the person who logged the most miles could receive a prize, White said. She is encouraging Starkville area residents to turn out and improve their health.
“We know that exercise can help reduce your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and all those things,” White said. “And being in motion creates motion. You have more energy. Some people don”t believe exercise gives you more energy until they go out and do it, but it really does.”
Organizers also plan to highlight the healthy menu items offered by a different Starkville restaurant each Saturday. City Bagel Cafe will be featured during the first week. T-shirts also will be for sale.
Steps on Saturday is just one portion of the Healthiest Hometown Committee”s effort to improve the well-being of area residents. Among other initiatives, the committee is pushing for the city to adopt a new ordinance which would require persons under the age of 16 to wear helmets while riding bicycles, ATVs and other “alternative” forms of transportation. The city”s Board of Aldermen scheduled the first public hearing on the ordinance for March 16 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
The Healthiest Hometown competition, sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, will pit Starkville against other municipalities from around the state. As part of the competition, the committee is working on an extensive report about the city”s efforts to better residents” quality of life.
The Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation will award four grants. Municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents are in one category, towns with 5,001-14,999 are in another, and large municipalities, which consist of 15,000 people or more, are in a third category.
A municipality from each of the three categories will receive a $25,000 grant from the Foundation to improve the municipality”s health and wellness. One municipality will be designated as “The Healthiest Town in Mississippi” and will be awarded a $50,000 grant. A town of any size may receive this designation.
The Foundation will select the winners and the recipients will be announced at the Summer Mississippi Municipal League Conference, scheduled for June 26-July 1, 2010, in Biloxi.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman will hold a ceremony Wednesday at 3 p.m. in front of the Oktibbeha County Courthouse for Registered Dietitian Day and another ceremony will be held Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Greensboro Center to kick off the Healthiest Hometown competition.
Committee members are urging the public to attend both events.
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