Grant funds Ridgeland wellness centerBy NIKKI ROWELL,
The Ridgeland Police Department is working to encourage a healthier police force, thanks to a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The “Healthy Heroes” grant will aid the department in constructing a wellness center for police officer use.
The Ridgeland Board of Aldermen approved the site plan and architectural review for the Ridgeland Police Department Wellness Center at a regular meeting of the board on June 19.
The request was presented to the board after the Architectural Review Board voted unanimously to approve construction for the new facility.
Police Chief John Neal said they are meeting every other week with White Construction to discuss plans for the center.
“Now we will go back to the drawing board to consider what is needed,” Neal said.
The grant, which designated $77,262 for the police department, will cover the cost of building materials and construction.
Neal said the next step will be meeting with the construction company to formulate a list of needed materials. He predicts construction could begin within the next month.
Once the materials list is complete, the department will create a detailed budget to move forward with construction and outfit the facility with exercise equipment.
The facility will be 1,250 square feet, complete with free weights, cardio equipment and resistance machines for specific parts of the body, as well as a changing room.
“We will utilize this facility for all city employees who want to take advantage,” Neal said. “It’s part of our comprehensive wellness plan that will focus not only on physical but also nutritional, spiritual, mental and financial wellness. We wanted to provide an avenue for fitness opportunities to keep them in shape.”
Neal said the department has not had a fitness facility on site for a number of years, but that it is important to offer one for officers.
“Once someone gets home, the chance of them going to the gym is lower,” Neal said.
So offering something like this for officers will make it easier for them to squeeze in a workout.
If conditions are good, Neal said construction should take less than one month. He said that the construction company has lined up subcontractors for a seamless job from start to finish.
The facility will be located next to the police department in a green space just south of the Municipal Court building.
The police department was awarded the Healthy Heroes grant in February 2018.
The total grant package is $91,710 and designates $14,448 for use at Anne Smith Elementary and Highland Elementary for physical education and playground equipment to educate young children on healthy eating habits and the benefits of a healthy, active and physical lifestyle.
The remainder was designated for the on-site wellness center.
Officers received training to conduct health education through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
The training showed how to teach healthy eating and exercise lessons to students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.
The Healthy Heroes funds also allowed the city of Ridgeland to purchase fitness games, equipment and nutrition education materials for area children.