Joplin, MO — Healthy Joplin invites the community to join the kickoff for their Walking Groups Initiative on Saturday, April 2 at Mercy Park’s Shelter 1, located on the south side of the pond. In case of inclement weather, the event will move to the JCPenney’s Court at the Northpark Mall.

Festivities will begin at 9:00 am with a ribbon cutting and door prizes, which will be given away to those who have registered here. This event will allow fellow walkers to connect while giving those who are interested in joining a group a chance to learn about the program and its benefits.
The Joplin Walking Groups Initiative currently has seven walking groups. Anyone is welcome to join the group of their choice:

Freeman Wellness Walkers, led by Rhonda Bitticks
Neosho Community Wellness Walkers, led by Kayla Carter and Jennifer Smith
Wow City Walkers Downtown, led by Leigh Kelley
Wow City Walkers Landreth Park, led by Suzan Morang
• Walk with Ease with Freeman Advantage, led by Jamie Gilmore
Mercy Bari Bunch, led by Jennifer Mesiter

Joining one of these groups and walking for just 30 minutes a day can help control blood sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent osteoporosis, boost the immune system, control weight, improve circulation and breathing, combat depression, and manage arthritis pain. And walking with a group keeps individual accountable and ensures that everyone feels safe.

To learn more about Healthy Joplin, visit www.healthyjoplin.com or visit their Facebook page. For more information on the Joplin Walking Groups Initiative, please contact info@joplincc.com.

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Healthy Joplin is a collaborative effort of local health agencies, individuals, and businesses passionate about improving the wellbeing of our community.

Joplin, Mo, — Active Lifestyle Events, ALE, a 501(c)3 organization devoted to promoting health and fitness in our community, presented a check to representatives of Healthy Joplin on Wednesday, March 16th at 12:30 p.m. The donation was funded by proceeds from the 2021 Joplin Memorial Runs.

Healthy Joplin is a collaborative workgroup created through a partnership between One Joplin and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. The workgroup is focused on Health and Wellness initiatives in the Joplin Community and consists of several teams, which include Walking Groups, HealthyJoplin.com, Workplace Wellness, and Healthy Kids. The donation will be used to paint professionally created stencil designs on sidewalks throughout the Joplin community including parks and walking trails.

The Joplin Memorial Run’s tag line is “Run, Remember, Rebuild”. The race is dedicated to remembering those lost in the EF-5 tornado that hit Joplin on May 22nd, 2011 and to supporting rebuilding efforts. Through the event, ALE has given over $200,000 to organizations such as Bright Futures, The United Way of SWMO, Rebuild Joplin, the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, and Stained Glass Theatre.

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Health is a lot more than how one looks and feels. Conversations about health should include all eight dimensions or areas of wellness—that is mental, social, emotional, spiritual, financial, occupational, environmental, and intellectual. That’s the focus of Living Well Month, a national event in March promoting overall wellness and the education provided by Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) professionals to improve the lives of people, families, and communities.

“The Missouri Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences works through the University of Missouri Extension Service to offer information that will help families achieve a positive, healthy lifestyle,” says Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health specialist in Barton, Jasper, and Dade Counties. “Whether you are trying to manage your diabetes through meal planning and exercise, make decisions about health care and insurance, or get tips on effective parenting techniques, Extension FCS has a research-based answer.

To make every month a “Living Well Month,” consider these tips:

1. Engage children in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity. Play sports or recreational games, turn on some music and dance, hula hoop, or make an obstacle course. Take a walk or a bike ride in your neighborhood. All movement counts.

2. Start planning a garden now to work in the spring and summer. Gardening is great physical activity. This activity could also nurture your mental and environmental wellness.

3. Rethink your drink. The average adult human body is approximately 60 percent water. Water regulates every living cell’s process and chemical reactions. It transports nutrients and oxygen. Water also helps to maintain normal bowel habits and prevent constipation. Reduce the amount of soda and fruit drinks consumed daily.

4. Eat a variety of healthful foods. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables every day. Most people need to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Have a sliced banana on cereal for breakfast. Enjoy a sandwich loaded with vegetables at lunch. At dinner, steam some vegetables and prepare a fruit parfait with yogurt for dessert. Try new fruits and vegetables. If there’s a kind you don’t like, try preparing it in a different way. See www.choosemyplate.gov for more information about nutrition for yourself and members of your family.

5. Read, read, read. Go to the library and check out books. Keep the mental stimulation flowing throughout the year regardless of your age. This will stimulate your intellectual health.

6. Talk to a friend or start a journal to get your thoughts and feelings off your chest. Staying in check with emotional health can be tough, but it’s important.

7. Check out parenting, finance, nutrition and/or food preparation classes offered by your Extension office. Scan the QR code for more information about upcoming offerings.

8. Maintain a healthy home. Check that your smoke detector is working correctly and test for the presence of Radon. Help manage allergies and/or asthma by cleaning and vacuuming regularly to reduce allergy triggers in the home. Avoid accidental poisonings by keeping medications locked up, and cleaning agents and other poisons out of reach of children.

9. Keep your family finances in check. Track your expenses and update your budget regularly. Eat at home often because meals outside of home usually cost more. Plan your menus and use coupons as a planning tool. Creating and sticking to a budget, along with paying of debt are great first steps to financial wellness.

All eight of the dimensions or areas of wellness are connected and support each other. Evaluate your overall wellness and take small steps to improve your health during Living Well Month and all year long.

March 2022 Living Well Calendar

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Extension Family and Consumer Science professionals are part of a nationwide educational organization funded through the Land Grant University System and United States Department of Agriculture. Local Extension Family and Consumer Sciences professionals provide practical,
relevant, non-biased, research-based information.

Submitted by:
Lindsey Stevenson, County Engagement Specialist in nutrition and health
University of Missouri Extension
417.682.3579
stevensonlk@missouri.edu

JOPLIN, Mo. – “Isaac blossomed so quickly,” said Laurae Howard of her 7-year-old son, Isaac’s time at Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. Isaac is just one child who benefits from the funds raised by those who participate in the Freeman 5K and Walk for Autism which benefits Leffen Center.

The 15th annual Walk for Autism and Freeman 5K take place at 8:00 am Saturday, April 23 at Leffen Center (2808 S. Picher Ave.). On Wednesday, Freeman and Ozark Center officials announced a superhero theme for this year’s fundraising event.

“Your participation means the world to us, and without you, we simply couldn’t do what we do at Leffen Center,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. “Thanks to you superheroes, families don’t have to drive hundreds of miles to receive an autism diagnosis, and children on the autism spectrum are receiving life-changing therapy to help them lead their best lives.”

“Proceeds from the walk and run go to assist with program development and scholarships at Leffen Center,” said Edyth Spera, Leffen Center Director of Autism Services. “We provide one-on-one Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We work individually with children and adults in sessions lasting anywhere from one to six hours, focusing on a variety of communication and language skills, early learning academic skills, play and social skills, eating, nutrition and reduction of challenging behaviors. Leffen also provides occupational therapy, speech therapy and diagnostic services.”

Howard said this approach to programming has made a big difference in her son, Isaac’s life.

“When he first came to Leffen Center, my son was non-verbal,” said Howard. “A couple weeks after he started coming, he was walking down the halls pointing to letters and saying their names. Being here with staff and therapists who know how to get that out of him has been amazing to watch. They love him just as much as I do, because they have put so much into him to help him grow and gain the skills that he has. It’s been so awesome.”

Runners and walkers are encouraged to break out their superhero costumes with capes, tights and other accessories as they join forces for this year’s event.

“We like to make this event both fun and educational for participants and families,” said Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “This year’s event will include a vendor fair with information from local community organizations with services and supports. There will be autism awareness items for purchase and free giveaways for kids. We will also welcome food trucks.”

In 2021, more than $54,500 was raised to support Leffen Center and once again this year there are prizes for family teams that raise the most money.

“The third-place winner will receive a MARVELous pamper day,” said Mieseler. “Second place fundraisers win a DC Me Out-and-About package with various gift certificates for food and activities, and first place gets the X-tra Special Time Away package with a trip to Branson.”

Teams and individuals are encouraged to register in advance at runsignup.com/Freeman5K or call 417.347.7850. 5K registration is $35 and includes a t-shirt. The one-mile walk registration is $15 for ages 13 and up and $10 for kids ages 3 – 12. T-shirts for walkers are available for $10 more. Racers can pick up packets on April 22 from 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm or on the day of the event from 6:45 am – 7:45 am.

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About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2022, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2021. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 90 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.
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About Ozark Center

Ozark Center is based in Joplin, Missouri and has been an entity of Freeman Health System since 1996. It has been providing comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families since 1965 in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from the Four States. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the behavioral health needs of the community and promote awareness of behavioral health issues in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.