(Diamond, MO) – The NPS Wellness Challenge, part of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative, will kick off during National Park Week, beginning Saturday, April 16 and will run indefinitely.

The NPS has introduced a new way to experience Missouri’s beloved treasures — our national parks — with the National Park Service Wellness Challenge. The NPS Wellness Challenge promotes the unique health resources that are found in the national park sites across the country, and asks visitors to participate in physical, mental, and learning wellness activities unique to each park. Missouri is the pilot state for this program.

In southwest Missouri, participants can take part in the NPS Wellness Challenge at George Washington Carver National Monument and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. The challenge was created with leadership and support from Gateway Arch National Park, Healthy Parks Healthy People, and community partners.

How It Works

Each national park site will offer nine Wellness Challenge activities, organized within three categories: physical wellness, learning wellness, and mental wellness. To get started, participants can pick up a National Park Service Wellness Challenge Guide at any Missouri national park site.

When an activity in each category is completed, participants can get their guide stamped by an NPS ranger or download a digital badge to mark their achievement, here. More information about the NPS Wellness Challenge, incuding the full list of park activities, can be found here.

Missouri’s seven national park sites are:

  • Gateway Arch Park in St. Louis
  • George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond
  • Harry S. Truman National Historical Site in Independence
  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren
  • St. Genevieve National Historical Park in St. Genevieve
  • Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis
  • Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic

NPS Wellness Challenge Activities at George Washington Carver National Monument:

  • Physical Wellness
    • Pack a picnic, choose a table on the park grounds, and enjoy a healthy meal.
    • Take a self-guided tour and search for wildlife in the woodlands.
    • Take your furry friend for a walk along the one-mile Carver Trail.
  • Learning Wellness
    • Explore the impactful life of Carver at the museum and watch the park film.
    • Join a park ranger on a guided tour along the Carver Trail.
    • Earn a Junior Ranger badge.
  • Mental Wellness
    • With a camera or cell phone, capture a moment in nature on the park grounds.
    • Read the quote stones along the quarter-mile Contemplative Loop Trail.
    • Journal, sketch, or write poetry on the park grounds.

NPS Wellness Challenge Activities at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield:

  • Physical Wellness
    • Walk, run, roll, bike, or drive along the five miles of the park’s tour road.
    • Explore the site with your animal companion and choose from over 10 miles of trails.
    • Hike in the footsteps of Federal and Southern soldiers on one of the site’s five walking trails, such as the Bloody Hill Trail or Manley Uplands Trail.
  • Learning Wellness
    • At the Battlefield Museum, watch the park film, pursue interactive exhibits, and view displays including medical artifacts, diary entries, artillery, and thousands of images of soldiers.
    • Observe plant and animal species on the park grounds.
    • Earn a Junior Ranger badge.
  • Mental Wellness
    • Relax and reflect by the waters of Wilson’s Creek, which flows through the entire park.
    • Journal about the nature you find at Wilson’s Creek.
    • Visit the Ray House and imagine how their family home was transformed by battle into a field hospital.

Share your Wellness Challenge journey on social media with #NPSWellnessChallenge! Follow George Washington Carver National Monument and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield on Facebook, as special social media challenges will be shared during National Park Week.

About George Washington Carver National Monument: 

Administered by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior, George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the birthplace and childhood home of George Washington Carver, scientist, educator, and humanitarian. Please call the park at 417.325.4151 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm for further information. Visit our website at www.nps.gov/gwca and Facebook page. The park is located two miles west of Diamond, Missouri, on Highway V, then south ¼ mile on Carver Road.


Diane Eilenstein, Park Ranger
George Washington Carver National Monument

Learn about what’s new in local healthcare with Freeman Health System’s newsletter, Freeman in a Flash. Learn about two new primary care physicians, drug screening upgrades, and much more below. 

Two New Primary Care Physicians Meeting Community Needs in Joplin and Anderson

Freeman Health System welcomes Justin Dillingham, DO, and Namrata Susarla, MD, who help fill a void in the number of primary care doctors in our community.

Meet Dr. Justin Dillingham

510 Park Street, Anderson, MO

A family medicine doctor, Dr. Dillingham attended medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and completed his residency at Genesys Family Medicine Residency in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

One medical issue close to his heart is obesity, and he shares his own lifelong struggle with weight with patients.

“There is a stigma around it,” said Dr. Dillingham. “My own personal struggle gives me insight. I noticed when patients see my old pictures before I lost more than 100 pounds, they’re like, ‘This guy gets it and what he’s telling me might actually work.’ So, if a patient wants help to lose weight and get healthy, I will spend all the time in the world to help them.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Dillingham, call 417.845.0545.

Meet Dr. Namrata Susarla

702 East 34th Street, Joplin

Dr. Susarla comes from a family of physicians and said she was inspired by her mother, who has a family care practice in India. Dr. Susarla completed her training at Freeman Internal Medicine Residency Program, and she is married to Dr. Rama Challapalli Sri, a Freeman nephrologist.

Dr. Susarla said empathy is her strong point and that “Shared-decision making is the key to build a good relationship in a clinical encounter.”

“I like to win my patients’ confidence by first listening to them and then having conversation about the best available options to maintain their health,” said Dr. Susarla. “In this way patients can explore their preferences while making health-based decisions.”

Dr. Susarla treats adults ages 18 and up. Call 417.347.2526 to schedule an appointment.

Express Drug Screen Receives Upgrade to Test for Methamphetamine

Effective April 4 at Freeman OccuMed, the non-federal express five-panel urine drug screen will be automatically upgraded to a non-federal express six-panel drug screen, which includes methamphetamine in the screening. Companies using this test may see an increase in positivity rates with the addition of the new drug detection. No other drug tests are affected.

Freeman Presents Major Donation to One Joplin

Freeman Health System is proud to extend $225,000 in financial support for One Joplin as it addresses access to healthcare in 2022.

“Freeman’s mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve through contemporary, innovative quality healthcare solutions,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer, “and One Joplin will enhance our efforts to do just that.”

Freeman is pledging three yearly installments of $75,000 to One Joplin as it works to meet critical community needs, such as health and wellness, opioid education, smoking cessation, domestic violence response, homelessness prevention and many other endeavors that directly intersect with the services Freeman provides to the community.

Allergy Presentation from Dr. Nathan Box

Did you miss our virtual Business Appreciation Event? We’ve got you covered!

Watch the recording from Dr. Nathan Box, Freeman Ear, Nose and Throat physician, to learn more about allergies – the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US. More than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergies each year, your employees among them. In his presentation, Dr. Box shared strategies available to patients through Freeman Allergy Clinic.

You can watch the full presentation here.

Freeman 5K and Walk for Autism

Join us for the annual Freeman 5K and Walk for Autism! Superhero costumes encouraged. All proceeds benefit program development and scholarship assistance at Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism.

This event will take place on Saturday, April 24 at 8:00 am at the Center for Autism. Sign up here.

Wellness for Business Series: Part 1

Discover how the WorkWell Missouri Initiative encourages employers to create environmental changes and worksite policies that make it easy for employees to initiate and follow through with voluntary health behavior changes.

During this free presentation on April 27, Freeman representatives will discuss:

  • Why you should establish a worksite wellness program in your organization.
  • How worksite wellness programs benefit both the employee and employer.
  • The importance of having senior leadership support and an active wellness committee to drive your program.
  • Why it’s important to utilize evidence-based wellness resources at the local, state and national level.
  • How to create a wellness plan starting with the CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard.

Interested individuals can register to participate in-person at the Freeman Business Center, here, or register here to attend virtually.

Work@Health Training for Missouri Employers

Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Work@Health training enhances employer knowledge of tools for the planning, implementation and evaluation of workplace health interventions. The curriculum provides employers with the skills to create a worksite wellness program using strategies to address chronic health conditions.

Cost is $25 per participant. Learn more and register here.


Healthy Joplin, a combined effort of One Joplin and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, is working on a group walking initiative in the community. If you or your organization is interested in hosting a walking group (it’s easy, we promise), you’ll find information about how to participate on the Walking Leaders Facebook group.

The pinned post is a video PSA about the health benefits of walking in groups. Check it out — you might recognize someone it in!

Caregiver Support Group

The Freeman Caregiver Support Group will meet on Thursday, January 20 at 10:30 am in the Freeman East Conference Rooms.

Join fellow caregivers for this support group meeting to gain advice on what lies ahead, make new friends and learn how to better take care of family members. Door prizes will be given out.

RSVP to Kathy Mason at 417.347.8463 or kdmason@freemanhealth.com. To see the full list of upcoming events offered by Freeman, click here.

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