From now through New Year’s Day, schedules will likely be filled with family obligations like traveling and festive outings.  Most likely those outings will involve tempting treats.  Even the most disciplined people can find it difficult to stick to their health and fitness routines.


  • Map out upcoming events, then plan and prepare yourself so you can stay on track.
  • Choose low-fat options when preparing foods.
  • Sign up for a holiday race with family and friends.
  • Balance eating well with indulging.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Make sleep a priority.
  • Don’t skip your regular workouts.
  • Visit the Joplin Family Y for “Fitness Before the Feast” on Thanksgiving morning from 7:00 am until noon.

Establish Healthy Habits with the Y Family:

It is our mission to provide our members and communities with the resources and support they need to be healthy in spirit, mind, and body.

Submitted by:
Joplin Family YMCA

(Joplin, MO) – The Joplin Trails Coalition is pleased to announce it has been designated as a 2022 AARP Community Challenge Grant Recipient, one of only four in the state of Missouri. These AARP grants fund quick-action projects to improve livability of communities for people of all ages.

The AARP grant will provide the needed funds to install an ADA-compliant concrete ramp on the Frisco Greenway Trail, on the south side of Fountain Road, in Webb City. This will make the trail access and road crossing safer, and it will make the trail more accessible for community members of all ages, especially those using mobility supports.

There is no official work start date but the project should be completed by the end of November.

To learn more about the Joplin Trails Coalition, please click here.


Bob Herbst
Joplin Trails Coalition

(Joplin, MO) – Caregivers help patients with care that can range from dressing and bathing to meal prep, transportation to doctor appointments and social activities. This care can take a toll on the caregiver both mentally and physically. According to the Family Caregiver’s Alliance, 25% of male caregivers and 35% of female caregivers report high stress due to caregiving. Exercise provides an outlet for stress and offers relief and relaxation.

Personal trainer Karen King, of the Joplin Family YMCA, will share advice for caregivers at the Freeman Caregiver Support Group meeting July 14. King will explain what caregivers can do to ensure fitness and nutrition for their loved ones and themselves. She will explain opportunities available at the YMCA, as well as provide tips to be successful.

Facilitated by Ozark Center Assistant Director of Adult Outpatient Services Jennifer Berry, MSW, LCSW, the support group meets from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Freeman Business Center conference rooms. Guests should enter from the rear parking lot. Physical distancing and mask wearing will be practiced. Refreshments and door prizes are provided.

Please RSVP to Kathy Mason at or call 417.347.8463.


Kathy Mason, Freeman Community Health Worker
Freeman Health System

Image Credit: Jay Kudva on Unsplash

(Joplin, MO)Missouri Life Magazine’s Big BAM (Bicycle Across Missouri) will ride across Route 66 in June, starting in Joplin as the first overnight town. The six-day recreational ride across our state will continue through Willard, Lebanon, Waynesville, Rolla, Cuba, and Eureka.

Cyclists from around the country will stay overnight in Joplin on June 12, with the Big BAM basecamp being located at Landreth Park. The City of Joplin’s Convention and Visitors Bureau asks for area commuters to be aware and watchful of riders departing at first light until 10:00 am the next morning.

“We’re excited to include Joplin as an overnight host for Big BAM again,” says KateLynn Ketsenburg, marketing and events coordinator for Missouri Life. Big BAM included Joplin in the same route in 2018. Participants of the ride loved Route 66 so much that the organization decided to have it again this year.

Patrick Tuttle, the tourism director in Joplin, says, “Route 66 is America’s longest museum and therefore it’s got a lot of Americana on there that you won’t see anywhere else.”

The town will be hosting a party to kick off the ride on June 12, featuring Smith Brothers and Zane Grimes. They will be performing from 7:00 to 9:30 pm on stage at Schifferdecker Park. Patrick says, “We invite the community, who will be able to enjoy food from various food trucks. So bring your chairs/blankets, your friends and family, and enjoy this great event.”

Big BAM encourages the local community and groups to enjoy the entertainment and raise funds for their nonprofit organizations with food and refreshment stands along the route. In the past, groups such as 4-H and others have stationed themselves along the route to sell lemonade, cookies, bananas, and even pickle juice popsicles, which can help prevent leg cramps for some cyclists. Approximately 200 cyclists will be exploring the area throughout the day on June 12.

Big BAM is a fully supported ride, which includes a camping area each night, gear transport, hot showers, water, and relief stations every ten to fifteen miles, SAG support, and bicycle mechanics. Plus, there is a concert every night that is free and open to the public. For more information, visit The sponsor of the event, Missouri Life Magazine, is the state’s largest paid circulation travel and lifestyle magazine.


Greg Wood
Missouri life Magazine

Image Courtesy of City of Joplin

Memorial Day weekend marks the kickoff of the summer swim season in Joplin. Like many cities nationwide, Joplin’s Parks and Recreation department is experiencing lifeguard staffing challenges causing pool operations to be modified.

Schifferdecker Aquatic Center will be the only pool to open to the public on Saturday, May 28. As the largest pool of Joplin’s aquatic centers, opening this center allows the City to serve the largest number of residents with current staffing. Cunningham Aquatic Center will be open during the summer in order to host various summer programs, such as morning and evening swim lessons, Junior Lifeguarding training, and other activities for patrons.

To date, City staff has hired and trained 42 lifeguards; however, the Department needs at least 90 lifeguards to safely operate both aquatic centers during the season.

“Our number one priority at the aquatic centers is the safety of our visitors and staff,” said Paul Bloomberg, Parks and Recreation Director. “We need approximately 90 lifeguards on staff to operate safely. This number may sound high, but many of the staff can only work 15 or 20 hours a week due to their sports and other extracurricular activities.”

The changes in offered amenities at today’s pools are another reason the City needs to have nearly 100 guards hired to operate all three pools.

“It’s great to have many different activities at the pool, however, each feature requires supervision from trained lifeguards,” said Jessica Johnson, Recreation Coordinator who oversees Joplin’s aquatics program.

With a limited number of staff this year, Schifferdecker Aquatic Center will open the large competition pool, which contains two diving boards, a rock-climbing wall, two water slides, two floatable features, and a basketball goal for patrons. The children’s water playground area will be open, as well as the beach area that offers zero-depth entry. The lazy river and the two slides located in this area will be closed until further notice due to the staffing shortage.

Bloomberg noted that planning for the new Ewert Splash Park will begin later this year. The splash park is included in the list of the Parks and Stormwater Sales Tax projects, which voters renewed last year. “Splash parks offer a fun water recreational area and are not labor-intensive like aquatic centers, but still provide a great summer activity for our community.”

The Parks and Recreation Department is still recruiting lifeguards for this year and will host a training in June for applicants.

“We appreciate the public’s understanding, and look forward to seeing everyone at Schifferdecker,” said Johnson.

Johnson encourages anyone interested in becoming a lifeguard to apply at the Human Resources Department at Joplin City Hall located at 602 S. Main or online at

2022 Pool Information

Schifferdecker Aquatic Center, located at 4th Street and Schifferdecker Avenue, will be open seven days a week, starting Saturday, May 28.  Hours are 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours on Fridays until 8:00 pm. Admission is $5.50 for visitors aged 15 and under and $6.50 for visitors 16 years old and over. There is no charge for children aged two and under. Children aged 11 and under must be accompanied by someone 16 or older in order to enter an Aquatic Center.

Closing for Swim Meets

Schifferdecker will be closed July 8 through July 10 and July 23 through July 24, closing at 6:00 pm for swim meets. During these weekends, Cunningham Aquatic Center will be open to the public.

Season Swim Passes

Season swim passes are available to purchase at Joplin Athletic Complex at 3301 W. 1st Street in Joplin. Scholarships are available to those who qualify. “Free swim” will be held from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Wednesdays at Schifferdecker Aquatic Center during the summer.

The City of Joplin has a no-refund policy. Rain checks will be issued for inclement weather, contamination, or equipment failure only if the pool is to be closed for the remainder of the day. All events and schedules are subject to change without notice. Please visit the website or call the pool/main office to confirm information.

For more information about the pools, season passes, swim lessons, or prices, please call the Joplin Parks and Recreation office at 417.625.4750 or visit

 Warmer temperatures have returned, and with them comes more sunshine, longer days, and the need to get outside after being cooped up throughout the winter.  

 This means summer is approaching in earnest, and so is National Trails Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in June. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the event, which celebrates and promotes trails while giving advocates a chance to organize service projects and show local trails some much-needed love.  

 This informal holiday is a perfect time for newcomers to become familiar with the local walking and biking trails by joining in the volunteer efforts or planning their first trail walk or ride.  

 So, let’s get some exercise, soak up the sun, and spend time with friends and family. We’ll see you on the trails!  

Joplin Area Trails

Frisco Greenway Trail:

This multi-use walking, running, and biking trail starts at North Street in Joplin before crossing Turkey Creek, continuing to St. Louis Avenue, and heading east to Florida Avenue. It stretches three-and-a-half miles along the path of a former railroad line previously owned by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. The Webb City trailhead is near a bike shop, a coffee shop, and several restaurants.  

George Washington Carver Trail: 

Located in Diamond, Missouri, this trail runs through the grounds of George Washington Carver National Monument. It is three-fourths of a mile long and features beautiful scenery as well as educational opportunities, including the 1881 Moses Carver house and the Carver cemetery. The visitors’ center and museum features exhibits on George Washington Carver’s life and accomplishments, as well as activities for all ages.  

Ruby Jack Trail:

The Ruby Jack Trail stretches across three communities in southwest Missouri, following the path of another former railroad. Starting in Carthage and running through Oronogo and Carl Junction, the trail runs for 16 miles before stopping at the Kansas state line. The path is made up of crushed limestone, which makes it perfect for cyclists, runners, and joggers. Visitors can also bring their dogs on the trail, if they are leashed. 

Wildcat Park:

Wildcat Park is a popular destination with nearly three-and-a-half miles of paths that wind through scenic wooded bluffs overlooking Shoal Creek and the iconic Grand Falls. The trail connects to the City of Joplin’s McIndoe Park trails. Visitors can also drop by the Shoal Creek Conservation Center to learn more about the park and see a 1,300-gallon aquarium of local fish species, as well as other native animals that are on display.  

Joplin Parks & Trails:

Looking for a trail that’s closer to home? The City of Joplin maintains several walking trails across the area, including some that are located in or around local parks. They are:  

  • Campbell Parkway: 1.32 miles
  • Cunningham Park: 0.35 miles
  • Humphrey Park: 3/10 of a mile
  • Landreth Park: 0.83 miles 
  • Leonard Park: 0.83 miles
  • McIndoe Park: 0.62 miles 
  • Mercy Park: 1.13 miles 
  • Mohaska Trail: 1.15 miles 
  • St. John’s Trail: 0.5 miles (will connect to Tin Cup Trail, which is under construction)

Learn more about Wildcat Park, click here. For more information about Joplin’s trails, visit the City of Joplin’s website or the Joplin Trails Coalition’s website 

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 or visit their Facebook page. For more information on the Joplin Walking Groups Initiative, please contact

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,, 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.


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 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

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

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 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.


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

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 or call 417.347.7600.