JSU’s Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation receives $162,230 grant from MSDH

Jackson State University College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation has been awarded a $162,230 grant for a 20-month partnership with the Mississippi Kidney Foundation, the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) and the Office of Preventive Health and Health Equity, and the Health Equity Coalition of Mississippi. 

The collaboration will launch the statewide project “Advancing Health Equity in Chronic Kidney Disease: Changing the Narrative to Serve Mississippi’s Most Equitable Populations,” funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 1 NH75OT000089-01-00.

“We want to drive two things, student success and health equity across the state of Mississippi, and that’s what we’ve done here as we partner with the MS Kidney Foundation,” explained James Robinson Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

Funds will finance travel to nine communities across the state for meetings with schools, health departments, and high school athletic events to promote healthy eating and education for kidney disease prevention.

Robinson said this partnership was formed in alignment with the university’s strategic plan JSU Elevate, which includes a goal for JSU to become an R1 institution over the next five years. For the next 20 months, the collaborative efforts will increase awareness about health equity and kidney disease, conduct research and develop long-lasting partnerships with various communities statewide.

The MS Kidney Foundation anticipates that the research conducted will accurately depict the number of kidney patients in the state.

“That’s one of the things we struggled with finding when we began the research for this project,” said T.J. Mayfield, executive director of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation. “We’re trying to find out how many people who’ve had kidney failure and those on or at risk of dialysis. We haven’t had those numbers in Mississippi for a number of years.” 

In addition to research, the project’s goal is also to promote a healthy lifestyle change throughout the state. The grassroots effort will focus on educating Mississippians about the importance of nutritional, physical and mental wellness.

Robinson said they’ve developed a hands-on approach to inspire adolescents in communities to take the lead in creating healthier families.

“We have an initiative within our nine communities called ‘Friday Night Lights and Bites’ where we’re going to build menus with the food that they normally eat every day, and we’re going to show them how to cook that food,” Robinson explained. “We’re from the South, and we love to eat, but how do we prepare that food? We’re going to show them how to prepare that food so they can have a healthier option that tastes good and is economical.”

According to the Mississippi Kidney Foundation, Mississippi ranks among the top in the nation in incidences of kidney disease. With the help of Jackson State and MSDH, the non-profit hopes to develop a week-long educational health course in high schools to promote healthier living and kidney health.

Robinson stated that this project would also create opportunities for JSU students to participate in student-led research initiatives that influence positive and real change in their communities.

 “It’s not about just going to class and learning that baseline knowledge, but it’s about taking that knowledge and putting it into practice,” Robinson shared. “We place these students in these communities so they can see where the problems are and how they can drive change.”

JSU students and faculty are invited to assist in the research efforts. Those interested are encouraged to email the department chair at james.h.robinson@jsums.edu or the MS Kidney Foundation at tj@kidneyms.org.