By GWEN SISSON
Mississippi Public Radio’s favorite doctor, Rick deShazo, will be visiting Starkville in September as part of a special “train the trainer” program promoting good health within the local church setting.
Dr. deShazo will lead a Health Advocate Training event from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at Griffin United Methodist Church. Members of the team will be Michael Jones, RN, Director of Mississippi’s Healthy Linkages, Dr. Debbie Minor, a pharmacist and professor of medicine, and Stephanie Young, project manager for Mississippi Area Health Education Centers.
Rev. Embra Jackson, Starkville District Superintendent for the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, said the training is designed to train at least one health advocate for 10 to 20 United Methodist Churches in the Starkville District, with plans for the program to grow statewide.
“The overall goal of this project is to assist the church in reclaiming it’s historic role in being centers of health and for pastors to become healthier so that they might assist their members and their communities to become healthier,” Jackson said. “Holistic health — body, mind, spirit, financial, relational, etc.) is our aim.”
As part of the training, the health advocates will become certified by the University of Mississippi Medical Center as a Trainer for the Level 1 Community Health Advocate Training Program and tasked to train health advocates for churches. Jackson said he envisions local churches becoming centers of health and wellness for their local communities.
“This project is important because I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world in human form so that we might have abundant life,” Jackson said. “Over one third of the New Testament is centered around healing — body, mind and spirit. Mississippi ranks last in many of the major indicators of health, including hypertension, obesity, heart disease, stroke, etc. As a result I believe that the church should take a more active role in the health of the pastor, the members and of the community. Pastors used to be among the most healthy of professionals. Today we are among the most unhealthy.”
Those trained as health advocates will have a skill set which includes measuring blood pressure, blood glucose, body mass index, performing basic dietary counseling, and connecting parishioners with local health providers, according to Kathy Butler, local coordinator for the health advocate training.
Butler said those participating in the Health Advocate event should preferably be a health professional or otherwise have experience in the medical field, but exceptions for other interested individuals can be made.
Funding for the training is being provided in part by Columbus First United Methodist Church. As a result, the number of participants is limited.
For more information about this training program, contact Butler at 601-954-6904 or firstname.lastname@example.org .