Mississippi United has partnered with the YMCA of Southeast Mississippi to celebrate National Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 24, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Healthy Kids Day is open safely for community participation, and all activities will be set up in the parking lot of the YMCA at 3719 Veterans Memorial Drive in Hattiesburg.
This community-wide, live event will serve as the community launch of Mississippi United, including the official membership ribbon cutting with the Area Development Partnership (ADP). Mississippi United is a grassroots effort that aims to improve health, humanity, and quality of life in our great state. This free event, which will feature live music by one-man band Charles “CC” Carter, an appearance by Mississippi Miss Hospitality McKay Lee Bray, health and wellness representatives from the community, is sponsored in part by Spartan Mosquito, which will stage a community product giveaway. Community partners Hattiesburg Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Schools Against Vaping, along with area pizza vendors and Hook’s Catering, will provide complimentary food and beverage for the event.
Preceding the official launch, Mississippi United named Sara Odom, a 15-year veteran in the non-profit industry, as its Executive Director. Odom has worked in management, marketing, public relations, resource development, grant, foundation, and endowment development, community impact, and economic development. She served as Vice President of United Way of East Mississippi for 8 years, where she helped raise over $8 million to support more than 20 regional organizations as they improved health, income, and education in their communities. Odom continues to serve on various social, civic, and arts boards and strives to help improve essential services to enhance every Mississippian’s quality of life.
When asked about leading a new non-profit in the midst of a national pandemic, Odom expressed confidence that, despite the challenges that may arise, this is when an organization like Mississippi United is most needed. She said, “We have seen these times before, and without a doubt we will see them again...but it is during these trying times that we as a state come together to model to the rest of the nation that regardless of politics, race, gender, or religious beliefs, we are not divided...we are Mississippi United.”
In addition to free food, entertainment, and lots of information on how to keep children physically and mentally healthy, the event will feature many other activities for kids including balloons by University Florist, a reading tent with Mental Health Ambassador Miss Presley Heights Katelyn Brown, free yoga demonstrations, and participation from healthcare community partners such as the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker will issue an official city proclamation for the national celebration.
“Healthy Kids Day provides all the ingredients for developing healthy, resilient kids. Join the Y for a day full of activities that celebrate kids being kids! The Pine Belt is invited to join this free event on Saturday, April 24,” says Matt Rumph, new CEO of YMCA of Southeast Mississippi.
For sponsorship and vendor information from Mississippi United, visit mississippiunited.org, and to learn more about the YMCA of Southeast Mississippi and the programs they offer, visit ymcasems.org.