Ellisville, MS – For several years, Jones County Junior College has offered students and staff opportunities to improve health and fitness through the Bobcat Fitness Center. Being awarded a $272,800 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation will now enable the college to expand health initiatives while also ensuring more individual health and fitness levels will increase.
“We certainly applaud the efforts of JCJC in implementing health and wellness initiatives with the focus on healthy eating and exercise,” said Sheila Grogan, Executive Director of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “(We’ve) designed a list of best practices for achieving health and wellness cultures on campus that extend into the surrounding communities and schools. Jones County Junior College submitted their best practices they plan to implement this year based on (our) model and the Foundation is pleased to support those efforts.”
JCJC officials are pictured holding the “Big Check” of the $272,800 Health Grant recently awarded to the college from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. Pictured left to right are: Dr. Jesse Smith, JCJC President; Finee’ Ruffin, VP of Marketing and Recruiting and JCJC Wellness Committee member; Dolores Deasley, JCJC ladies soccer coach and JCJC wellness committee member; Katie Herrington, JCJC athletic director and JCJC wellness committee member; Emileigh Sones, JCJC math instructor and JCJC wellness committee member; Beth McDaniel, JCJC recruiter and JCJC wellness committee member; Sonya Dykes, JCJC director of campus life and JCJC wellness committee member; Lauren Pittman, JCJC wellness coach and assistant ladies basketball coach; Pam Brownlee; JCJC WIAO/ADA coordinator and JCJC wellness committee member; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation’s Vice President, Sheila Grogan; and Zackary Allen, JCJC personal trainer and JCJC wellness committee member.
One of the most tangible benefits of the grant is the addition of a Circuit Room to JCJC’s Bobcat Fitness Center. With several different pieces of exercise equipment designed to work the entire body, a group of people can work each piece of equipment in 20-minute intervals. For added privacy, the Circuit Room is located away from the Fitness Center and is designed especially for faculty and approved groups, like the Emergency Technology program’s students. Instructor Benji Sessums explained he has incorporated physical training as part of the curriculum and the Circuit Room is an extension of his classroom.
“The changes I see in students are significant. Their physical fitness changes, their attitudes change and they get to know their instructor and classmates in a whole different setting. They learn how to believe in themselves and the people around them,” said Sessums.
Emergency Technology program sophomore Joshua Goldman from Belleville, Illinois said working out relieves his stress. It has helped with school and exercising will better prepare him for the physical demands of his job as a paramedic.
“It’s hard to find a good program that offers a personal trainer and good equipment on a college campus,” said Goldman.
A personal wellness or “life” coach and an additional personal trainer were hired with the grant money to assist college students and staff reach wellness and fitness goals. JCJC Wellness Committee member and VP of Marketing and Recruiting, Finee’ Ruffin added the personnel additions provided by the Health Grant translates to more opportunities for the campus to obtain the college’s mission to have a healthy student body and staff.
“This means we’re fully staffed now. There’s a personal trainer available after work, there’s one for us here at lunch. Exercise and spin classes are offered before work, during lunch and after work. It’s really reaching out to our staff and faculty because our students were our main focus initially. This has allowed the college to branch out and touch more lives on our campus every day,” said Ruffin.
At JCJC’s “Next Steps in Health” kick-off luncheon for faculty and staff, the trainers were available to schedule individual assessment appointments and they learned how to submit recipe’s for a healthy “make-over.”