(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 kdmason@freemanhealth.com or call 417.347.8463.


Kathy Mason, Freeman Community Health Worker
Freeman Health System

Written by Amber Allen, Field Specialist in Human Development & Family Science, MU Extension

It is natural to feel stress in our lives. Our lives are busy with kids, jobs, caring for ill parents, and taking care of ourselves. A study by the American Physiological Society found that people are more likely to have higher stress hormones in the summer than in the winter. As you enjoy nicer weather and more outdoor activities, make sure to be proactive in your overall mental well-being.

Here are some tips to check in with your overall mental well-being throughout the summer:

  • To help your emotional well-being, practice coping skills, set healthy boundaries, and try different self-care techniques.
  • Develop a sense of connection and establish a support system. Join groups that are focused on a favorite activity or hobby.
  • Find ways to expand your knowledge and skills through intellectually stimulating activities.
  • Become aware of your stress symptoms and identify and clarify your stressors.

It is important to know everyone handles stress differently. If you are interested in learning more on how you handle stress check out the upcoming Taking Care of You classes that MU Extension is providing. Learn more here.

About the MU Extension: 

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians to improve lives, communities and economies by providing relevant, responsive and reliable educational solutions. MU Extension programs are open to all

(Joplin, MO) – Dementia is the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions to the extent that it interferes with everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and neither is a normal part of aging.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 60% – 80% of dementia cases and while the greatest known risk factor is aging, it can also affect people under the age of 65, which is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s. Understanding the stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s will be the focus of this month’s Freeman Caregiver Support Group with a special presentation by College View Manor’s Carey Prater, who serves as the Chair of the Joplin Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Prater will explain how to navigate essential care needs for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s at the meeting on Thursday, May 26.

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 kdmason@freemanhealth.com or call 417.347.8463.

Having a healthy environment in the workplace is essential for employers and employees to be successful and productive. In a healthy workplace, you may find employees have higher job satisfaction and feel less stressed.

An unhealthy workplace can lead to job burnout – a state of emotional, mental, and sometimes physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Employees and employers may feel overwhelmed and dissatisfied with their job. Burnout can cause physical fatigue and unwanted stress. Focusing on your emotional, mental and physical health can help you fight feelings of burnout, which in turn will help you be more productive, fell less stressed, and create a healthier work environment.

By focusing on mental, physical, and emotional health, you can create a culture that thrives with employees who are productive and satisfied with their work. Mental health in the workplace is important for everyone because when it is a priority everyone feels safe. For most employees, better mental health and a healthy workplace means creating a work-life balance. Although employers cannot control what goes on outside of work, they can try to create a space where employees feel safe and enjoy coming to work.
Here are some ideas on how to create a healthy workspace:

• Offer resources to mental health benefits: Start an employee assistance program. Provide resources for counseling sessions and/or telehealth visits for mental health.

• Promote setting boundaries: Encourage time management and give employees so they can establish and maintain regular work day hours.

• Support wellness activities: Create a wellness program and encourage physical activity. Start walking groups or team yoga sessions. Keep sleep logs. Have group or personal meditation.

These are only some of the ideas that employers can establish in their workplace . They lessen the risk of job burnout and keep employees coming back to work. By prioritizing mental, physical, and emotional health, you will find that employees come to work happier, less stressed and more productive.

Submitted by Abbie Casper, MSSU Health Promotion and Wellness Intern
Reviewed by Kris Drake RN, CHPD Freeman Health System Wellness Coordinator


(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

Photos provided by Christina Williams

For many families, getting to and from school can be a hassle. But for some students at Cecil Floyd Elementary School, their morning and afternoon commutes are the best parts of the day. These students bike to and from school throughout the week as part of a group called the Bike Bus, which is organized by Joplin City Council Member Christina Williams.  

“The Bike Bus is what I call our group of kids who ride to and from school together,” she explains. “Instead of riding to school in a car or a bus, we choose to get active and ride bikes.” 

The concept has roots in Williams’ own love of cycling, which she shares with her two children. The Bike Bus began after she invited her neighbors to join her and her family as they rode to and from school.  

“Riding to school is something I’ve done with my son Greyson since his first day,” she explains. “This year, my daughter Cadee started kindergarten and I figured we might as well invite the neighborhood to join. I checked with some of the moms, and they were all excited about the idea.”  

The Bike Bus took its inaugural ride on the fourth day of the 20212022 school year, and since then, the group has biked to and from school each week. Every weekend, Williams checks the weather forecast as well as her availability to decide which days to ride and then coordinates with other parents. Some weeks, the group can only meet a few times. 

“But the best weeks are when we get to ride every day,” she says.  

Under Williams’ supervision, they learn about biking safety and communicating while riding as they exercise, build confidence, and make friends with other students. As a group, they are more visible to drivers, and Williams adds that parents are more willing to let their kids bike to school when another adult can ride alongside them and ensure that everyone arrives safely.  

The Bike Bus currently has nine participants, but they are hoping to recruit more students as the school year progresses. They even expanded to include students who attend a nearby private school by organizing six-mile group rides on Sunday afternoons when the weather is good.  

However, Williams would like to see the idea spread beyond her neighborhood and throughout the Joplin school district. She hopes other parents will hear about the Bike Bus and, in turn, be inspired to start their own biking or walking groups. In fact, she would like to hold an event this spring to introduce the concept to other families so they can organize their own groups.  

“Unfortunately, it won’t work for every household or in every neighborhood,” she concedes, “but I’m happy to help anyone who is interested to plan a safe route and get started.”  

Williams encourages interested parents to research similar initiatives such as walkbiketoschool.org, actionforhealthykids.org, and saferoutesinfo.org because they proved to be helpful resources when she started the Bike Bus. 

“Parents can check out the websites or reach out to me personally,” she says. “Since there isn’t an official program or club to join, anyone is free to craft a route to school however works best for them — make it yours!” 

Williams hopes that anyone involved, whether they participate in the Bike Bus or create a group of their own, will see the benefits of the program impact the rest of their lives. 

“I hope this experience is one they will cherish and that they will become lifetime riders,” she concludes. 

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

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

As we say goodbye to 2021, many people create New Year’s resolutions to become healthier versions of themselves.

The average American spends one-third of their life at work, so what better place to promote wellness than in the workplace.

As you develop wellness programs in the workplace, consider a whole-person approach. The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) reports that successful workplace wellness initiatives require supporting employees in fulfilling their needs in seven areas.

Read more here, https://www.freemanhealth.com/blog/how-to-create-a-culture-of-well-being-in-the-workplace

Submitted By:
Margaret “Kris” Drake, RN, CHPD
Freeman Wellness Coordinator

The holidays are the most difficult time of the year when it comes to overeating and following a nutritious diet. The collective mindset at this time of year is that New Year’s resolutions are coming up and I can just start a new diet again next year. These end-of-the-year holidays are all within a 62-day period. First is Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Years. So, overeating and bingeing is common and amplified around this time of year. All these holidays are focused on friends and family, which usually means they are centered around food. Eating a balanced diet during these food-filled months can be easy if you follow these three tips and tricks.

Bring a nutritious dish to the holiday functions or host the gathering yourself
If you are going to celebrate a holiday at your family’s house, take a fall or winter salad, a hearty soup, or fruit dessert. This will add nutrients to your plate without sacrificing flavor. If you decide you would like to host, make some nutritious main dishes and vegetable sides. Ask your guests to bring some of their favorite dishes as well. This ensures you will have good and nourishing food for everyone.

Try to build your plate like a “MyPlate”
Make ½ of your plate fruits and veggies, ¼ of your plate proteins, and ¼ of your plate grains. Have some dairy on the side as well. This can be easier than you think. Here are some examples of a MyPlate holiday meal.

Thanksgiving – ½ cup green beans, 1 cup fall salad, 4 oz (1/4 plate) turkey, ¼ cup stuffing, ¼ cup mashed potatoes, ¼ cup of snacks from the cheese plate.

Christmas – 4 oz (1/4 plate) of ham, ¼ cup corn, ¼ cup mashed potatoes, 1 Tbsp gravy, ½ cup of roasted vegetables, 1 gingerbread cookie.

Don’t skip breakfast and lunch to make more room for dinner
It is so easy to do this before the holidays. You will not eat at all to “save room” for dinner later. This can cause extreme overeating, accompanied with discomfort. Eat breakfast and lunch like normal, then eat a normal sized dinner. You can always take leftovers home if you did not get to try everything, or if you want something more to eat later.


Submitted By:
Mariah Baugh, Dietetic Intern
Northwest Missouri State University


We started the Empire Market in 2018, to increase access to fresh, locally grown food for our citizens and to provide another venue for small growers, bakers, and other makers to sell at. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.