Forest named Healthy Hometown

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

The City of Forest has been awarded the highly competitive 2018 Healthy Hometown Award sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. The requirements to even be considered for this award are strict and the year-long application process was tough and required meticulous attention.

The application process began in January 2017 and required the creation of the Forest Healthy Hometown Committee that was comprised of a cross-section of people and met monthly to oversee the completion of the application. Along with the honor of receiving the award Forest will receive a $25,000 grant to help the city better its already strong health and wellness programs and include more opportunities for children with special needs.

In a press release from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi the company explained that the City of Forest made significant progress in creating a healthy living and working environment for its residents. Members of the Forest Healthy Hometown Committee shared the common goal of providing citizens with opportunities to make healthy living a priority, and their efforts earned the municipality a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation Healthy Hometown Award for 2018.

The formal application which is the size of two full reems of paper stacked neatly included five sections that had to be thoroughly documented. The sections included: Tobacco free community, Community leadership and involvement, Promotion, support and encouragement of exercise, Encouragement of healthy community nutrition and Ensuring healthy school environments.

While the city had previously implemented numerous ordinances and programs that supported all five of these requirements it took the hard work of the committee to ensure that all of the measures taken by the city were highlighted and documented. When the time for submission came the City of Forest submitted an exceptional application that ultimately led to this honor.  

“This was an outstanding project and everybody involved worked hard to make it a reality,” said Mayor Nancy Chambers. “It is not uncommon for a city to have to complete this application process multiple times before receiving this honor and we got it on the first try.” Many of the requirements to be considered for this award were already in effect in Forest because of the city’s continual strive to create a great environment for its citizens. Chambers says, “We were already doing these things but we had to get them identified in acceptable form in order to be considered for this award.”

Chambers went on to say, “Everyone involved played a vital role, it is wonderful when people come together as a team to promote the City of Forest and achieve the goal.”

The $25,000 grant will be used to create new opportunities for those citizens in Forest that have been underserved and may not have had as many opportunities to enjoy outside activity. “We will have a two-pronged approach in using the grant money” says Patsy Nichlolson Manager of Forest Downtown Development. “We will be converting one tennis court at Gaddis Park to a Pickle Ball court, and our main area which we will address by taking the initial steps in building an inclusive playground for special needs children.” Both projects will be completed at Gaddis Park.

City officials are happy with the achievement but they have their minds already set on the next Forest team goal. Nicholson says, “now we plan to apply for the ‘Healthiest Hometown’ award in order to get additional funds to help make these projects a wonderful addition to the city which local children and children from other areas can enjoy.” The city will start the new application process and look for a repeat of its success and win the coveted Healthiest Hometown Award which come with a $50,000 grant.