September 25, 2017

With a second grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, East Central Community College (ECCC) in Decatur is enhancing and expanding its Warrior Wellness program.

The Warrior Wellness program began in the fall of 2016 with a $127,500 grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation in an effort to create and sustain a culture of wellness on ECCC’s campuses and in the local communities.

The most recent grant totaling $92,588 will expand fitness classes such as yoga, toning, kickboxing and circuit training that are offered free to students and taught by qualified instructors, as well as allow the college to offer for-credit Health, Physical Education and Recreation courses. There will be increased supervised access to the Wellness Center with part-time assistance, and ECCC will implement an annual Wellness Week to be held each September. The grant will also provide additional equipment for the Wellness Center including a commercial treadmill, curl and straight barbells, and five commercial spin cycles.

The initial grant funding allowed the college to make transformative equipment upgrades to the existing Wellness Center and equip a wellness assessment center on campus; offer program activities for students, faculty, and staff; and provide healthy lifestyle nutrition and exercise education on campus and in the communities. The grant also supported outreach to area primary and secondary schools, sponsorship of community wellness events and supported plans to create new spaces for program growth and sustainability.

“Our goal when we began Warrior Wellness was to make a positive impact on the health of individuals on our campuses and in the surrounding communities, and we believe we are doing just that,” said ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart. “The interest and participation by our campus and local communities has been tremendous, and we hope to build on that momentum with this new grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.”

Stewart added that a key component of Warrior Wellness is providing nutrition, dietary and healthy living education to area communities, and this should expand with the additional grant funding.

“We are excited about the potential for our Wellness Week and believe it will position us as the district health fair leader and encourage others, including our partners in the K-12 schools in our district, to promote similar events,” he said.

ECCC serves the five-county district of Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Scott and Winston counties.

In addition to Warrior Wellness, other ECCC initiatives contributing to a safe and healthier campus environment include offering more healthy eating options in the cafeteria and in vending machines on campus as well as being a tobacco-free campus which prohibits all tobacco products, including smoke-emanating (or electronic) and smokeless products, on all campuses, including in vehicles.

“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation congratulates ECCC on the progress demonstrated through the Warrior Wellness initiative, and we look forward to supporting ECCC’s ongoing efforts,” said Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “Their leadership is setting a positive example for other colleges and universities that are seeking wellness opportunities for their respective campuses. We are proud to be their partner in our collaborative efforts to support a healthy future for Mississippi.”

The Warrior Wellness initiative at East Central Community College is in partnership with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is committed to supporting Mississippi’s universities and colleges in implementing healthy eating and exercise initiatives that extend from the campus to the local communities and schools. Learn more about the work of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation at More information on ECCC’s Warrior Wellness initiatives can be found at