By Hannah Adams
CHARLESTON – Brittney Hames loves to exercise at the James C. Kennedy Wellness Center in Charleston, a facility that opened two years ago thanks to a grant.
“I am a member because I love to workout daily, and I want to be a healthier person,” she said. “I would recommend the wellness center to anyone who is looking to better their health.”
Hames is just one of the Charleston residents who now use the center. She enjoys participating in the center’s three-month goal challenge.
In 2012, Catherine Morin, Ph.D., conducted a comprehensive health assessment for her dissertation project. That led philanthropist James C. Kennedy to address the needs and health concerns that Charleston was facing.
Findings showed a facility was needed to house programming for chronic disease prevention, treatment and management, and a place for residents to exercise, recreate, and ultimately improve individual and community health.
In 2013, Kennedy and his wife donated more than $4 million to create the wellness center and outdoor walking path. The center opened in January of 2016.
Morin is the founder and executive director of the center in the Mississippi Delta. According to her bio, she specializes in helping individuals and families overcome health concerns, heal from chronic conditions, and reach optimal states of health and wellness. She is also a health and diabetes educator, yoga teacher and adjunct professor.
“We have an array of group-based programming, as well as individual services,” she said.
They also offer a few evidenced-based programs, such as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, the Diabetes Education and Empowerment Program, Diabetes Self-Management Education, Chronic Care Management and Cooking Matters. They recently added the Whole30 wellness program.
Moring is a Whole30 coach. She believes the wellness center has helped Charleston. She said the county moved to 71st from its ranking of 81st out of 82 Mississippi counties in 2012 in terms of overall health status and health outcomes.
This facility has programs for all ages and an outdoor public playground for children, the first in Tallahatchie County.
“We have seen countless success stories of people losing weight, getting off medicine and reversing diabetes, to learning to cook, improving mental health and getting rid of chronic pain,” Moring said.
She said the center plans to add a diabetes prevention program and a new diabetes screening program. The center will host a Health Carnival Fair and a one-mile fun run/walk in April 21. For more information, contact the James C. Kennedy Wellness Center at (662) 625-7214