Tupelo’s initiatives promoting communitywide better health, including creating a mayor’s health council, were given center stage Tuesday morning. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation presented the City of Tupelo with a $50,000 Healthy Hometown Award for the city’s commitment to increase healthy living among residents.

The foundation, in choosing the city as a recipient of the award, recognized its efforts in having private organizations partner with the city to promote health, the city cultivating community gardens and other works to promote healthy living, as reported by Daily Journal staff writer Taylor Vance.

“The members of the Mayor’s Health Council – led by officers Liz Dawson, Donna Loden, Dana Walker, Alex Farned, Leesha Falkner, and Sally Kate Collins – worked with the Parks and Recreation Department and administration to submit the successful application,” said Mayor Jason Shelton.

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation established the Healthy Hometown Awards Program to encourage and reward exemplary community health and wellness. The city also received health-related awards in both 2010 and 2012 from the foundation.

Sheila Grogan, the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, recognized Tupelo’s “Health on a Shelf” program, an initiative to have healthy food and snacks on display in local stores, as a model for other cities in the state.

The mayor says future plans to help foster a healthy environment within the city include using local parks to provide residents with free health programs, and bringing back the Tupelo Fit Program with free exercise programs that utilize city facilities.

Expanding fitness activities to the city’s parks is a win-win, providing opportunities for residents to participate in fitness activities, while showcasing the parks.

The more people that programs can engage, the better the opportunity to achieve lasting, positive results.

Tupeloans working together to cultivate a healthy culture is a step in the right direction.

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