FAT to Fit Olympic Games Makes Health Fun

FAT to Fit Olympic Games Makes Health Fun

In 2004, Jefferson County was reported as the most obese county in America. In 2010, Janell and Anthony Edwards attended the Global Obesity Summit in Jackson, and they realized that something needed to be done in terms of improving public health in Mississippi, starting in their community of Jefferson County. That same year, they created the FAT to Fit Olympic Games.

This past year, the Fayette Community Service Organization (FCSO) held its 9th Annual FAT to Fit Olympics Games on July 19 and 20 at Alcorn State. The FAT to Fit Olympic Games consists of many field day games, ranging from 3-on-3 basketball to tug of war, and they have recently added a qualifying event in other counties for four of the tournament games. Winners of all of the games receive a bike or a cash prize. All participants also go through a free health screening.

“Our mission is to foster health and wealth among young men and women, including youth, by empowering service and guidance. Our vision is to create healthier and wealthier communities in Mississippi by turning a negative that has plagued our state for so many years into a positive,” says Janell Edwards.

To date, the Fayette Community Services Organization has conducted over 15,789 free health screenings, and has awarded over 1000 new bicycles and over $4000 in cash and healthcare products. Their goal for the 2020 event is to have a total of five counties participate, and they hope to reach even more counties. 

One of the most helpful people in their journey has been Dr. Olu T. Ekundayo, who helped them realize the importance of getting clean data. 

“When you get the data on somebody’s blood pressure, it comes from a hospital where they have a blood pressure issue. So, we had an event where you’re at the best health possible, and we’re getting those real numbers. You get clean data — you’re not getting sick data,” says Anthony Edwards.

FAT to Fit Olympic Games outgrew both their locations at the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors facility and the local junior high gymnasium in Fayette, and when they realized they were going to be expanding into multiple counties and attracting more people, they decided to partner with Alcorn State and use their larger facilities. 

“We are dedicated to be a part of the solution. We are the inspiration for the nation fighting obesity. We want FAT to Fit to go nationwide. We’ve had participants from thirteen different Mississippi counties and five U.S. states. It will be based in health and people just coming out to have fun,” says Janell Edwards. 

FCSO is also involved in other projects that work to create a culture of health and help lessen the high rates of obesity in our state:

The Fitness is Fun – Community Health Engagement Awareness Program (FIF-CHEAP) implements community engagement activities in targeted counties to increase health knowledge. They provide community meetings, live radio talk segments, and live social media prize campaigns to foster deeper understandings of obesity risk factors and its correlation to social and lifestyle factors, while also promoting obesity prevention and treatment strategies. 

The Healthy Intervention Project Community (HIP-C) tracks the health of 3rd-6th graders with annual health screenings up until their senior year of high school. They have been doing this program for seven years, and their first class of students just graduated. The goal for this project is to establish health consciousness in young children.

The Community Garden in Fayette, MS will open in March 2020 and includes a pond, a walking trail, and a garden. The garden will also have a classroom style demo set up, and through partnerships with MSU Extension and Alcorn State Extension, they will offer gardening classes on site. 

Health Radio Segments – FCSO will have segments on their local radio with healthy advice and recipes in hopes of expanding health literacy throughout the community. This project is funded by the Mississippi State Department of Health. 

Learn more about the Fayette Community Service Organization on their Facebook

The UPside, Episode 2: Preventative Medicine and Health Education with Joshua Mann, MD, MPH

The UPside, Episode 2: Preventative Medicine and Health Education with Joshua Mann, MD, MPH

The UPside is a series in which we learn how state agencies, businesses, and other organizations in Mississippi are helping to build a culture of health from the ground up.

In this episode, Dr. Mary Currier, State Health Officer of the Mississippi State Department of Health, talks with Joshua Mann, MD, MPH, Chair and Professor of the Department of Preventative Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, about all the ways in which preventative medicine and health education contributes to the overall health of Mississippians.




UProot Mississippi builds bridges that connect Mississippians to opportunities and resources that can help inspire them to lead healthier lifestyles. So we were excited to feature our state’s strong legion of public-health workers for National Public Health Week 2018; these hard workers are committed to improving the health and quality of life of all Mississippians, and strive every day to achieve that goal. (You can check out the State Health Assessment and State Health Improvement Plan for more about Mississippi’s public health goals!)

Each day of National Public Health Week 2018 spotlighted a particular public health-concern, with insight from a Mississippi public-health expert. We started off the week with a focus on Behavioral Health:


Communicable Diseases:


Environmental Health:


Injury and Violence Prevention:


and finished the week with an empowering message on Ensuring the Right to Health.


We also celebrated with the Dr. Ed Thompson Walk for Public Health! See even more photos, and the live stream, on our Facebook page.



Check out these videos on our YouTube and subscribe to our channel for even more updates!


The year-old organization provides information and feminine-hygiene products and underwear to women of all ages.


It started out as a chance meeting.


The two women—Kate Roos was in Knoxville and Bloom, a Mississippi native, was working in Memphis —met at a women’s interfaith meeting a year ago after both women had relocated to Oxford. Drawing on inspiration from knowing people who’d done similar work in the past, Roos pitched a community outreach idea of giving back to their communities by delivering feminine hygiene projects, from tampons and pads to even underwear, to women in need. Spurred by their passion for the work, Roos and Bloom developed the project into a much larger program: Dignity Period.


In the short year since the founding of Dignity Period, they’ve served hundreds of women schools, shelters, they’ve served schools and many social welfare agencies, including the Department of Health in Lafayette County. Distributed over 4000 projects.


Roos says the organization serves two purposes. One is to provide feminine hygiene products to girls and women in need, primarily homeless people and people in poverty. The other part of their mission is to educate the public about not just the need but the impact of the stigma associated with periods, which can impact not only the dignity and self-esteem of those who have to go without hygiene products, but also can hurt their physical health, too.


“There’s a sense of shame at not having access to this material. You isolate yourself. You’re embarrassed at something that’s a natural bodily function,” Roos said. And for the women who might not isolate themselves, they’ll go to desperate measures to stem the flow. “One woman said she uses wads of paper towels that she gets out of the public bathroom. All of that can lead to infection. And if you’re not educated about it, you can use tampons and pads and not change them, and that could lead to infection, too,” she said


“The populations that we need to reach are kids in school, women who are homeless or victims of abuse, or people who just don’t have the money to buy the products, who can’t use food stamps, and in Mississippi they’re taxed, so it can be pretty costly if you’re a woman with low income who might have two daughters in school,” she said. “One women we spoke to had four daughters. That’s 30 or 40 dollars a month—a lot for someone who has limited resources.”


For the future, Roos says they begun expanding their services to older women with bladder issues, who might also isolate themselves for the same reasons a woman without access to tampons and pads would, but whose products are more expensive. They’ve also reached out to offer guidance to groups in Louisiana, the Delta, and North Carolina. But there are other ways to help Dignity Period; as a nonprofit, all financial contributions made to them are tax-deductible.


“It’s part of a larger empowerment of women,” Roos said.

Helping Out At Home:


Roos says it’s simple to start a similar project wherever you live. You can:



Dignity, Period of Oxford is glad to have partnerships, help other organizations get started, and accept both financial and product donations. To learn more about how you can help Dignity Period, visit their website: https://www.dignityoxford.org/you-can-help