JACKSON, MS – The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi (The Partnership), Subway® Restaurants, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi announced today a collaboration that will bring a physical activity and healthy eating program to approximately 6,000 elementary school children around the State of Mississippi. Just Have a Ball™, a program of The Partnership, educates elementary school children on the advantages of play as a way to be physically active and how healthy eating is crucial to the development of their young muscles and organs. The Partnership’s Health and Wellness staff, in an assembly format, hold an interactive discussion about healthy eating and the development of vital muscles and organs to the children. The second half of the assembly is a high-energy demonstration of several movements with a ball and other sports equipment for the children. The most exciting part of the assembly for the students is when they receive a playground ball of their own to take home, furnished by funds donated to The Partnership by Subway® and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi.


“This collaboration with Subway® and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi is one that will allow us to reach more children than any other school year in the past. We are very honored that Subway® and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi have chosen to fund this program,” said Sandra Shelson, Executive Director of The Partnership. “Having two nationally-recognized, well-respected and like-minded brands fund the Just Have a Ball™ program for the 2014 – 2015 school year will allow us to continue to implement Just Have a Ball™ across the state and positively affect the health of our children.”


Two young philanthropists, Wilson and Hartwell Furr of Jackson, started the Just Have a Ball™ program. The program was a huge success in the early years and grew to be so demanding that the Furrs decided to turn the program over to The Partnership to run the day-to-day operations. The program continues to flourish and has been expanded into other areas of childhood obesity prevention under the direction of The Partnership. To date, the program has distributed more than 20,000 balls to children across the State of Mississippi.


Subway Restaurants are proud to support The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi’s Just Have a Ball Program to fight childhood obesity. Supporting Just Have a Ball is a perfect avenue to share our passion for heart health and fighting childhood obesity by encouraging healthy eating habits and living active lifestyles. Subway franchisees and employees pride ourselves on being active and caring members of our communities and being able to positively affect 6,000 students in Mississippi is an example of our commitment,” stated James Sullivan, Subway® Jackson Market Board Chair.


UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi is excited to team up with the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi and Subway Restaurants on this program. Just Have A Ball is a great way to get kids moving in a healthy direction and aligns with our mission to help people live healthier lives,” stated Jocelyn Chisholm Carter, Plan President, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi.

Twenty-four (24) schools located in twenty-two (22) counties across the state will receive a Just Have a Ball™ presentation. The Partnership has begun scheduling these events and has identified schools in the cities of Biloxi, Brookhaven, Canton, Columbus, Forest, Goodman, Greenville, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Louisville, Meridian, Pascagoula, Pelahatchie, Philadelphia, Port Gibson, Raymond, Sumrall, Tishimingo, Tupelo, Vicksburg and Wiggins.



The mission of the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi is to provide educational information and awareness about the impact of tobacco on Mississippi and to improve the culture of health in Mississippi by applying lessons learned in tobacco prevention to other leading causes of death and disease impacting our State and Nation.