JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Jackson State University College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation has been awarded a $162,230 grant.

The grant is 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.

According to JSU officials, the collaboration will launch the statewide project “Advancing Health Equity in Chronic Kidney Disease: Changing the Narrative to Serve Mississippi’s Most Equitable Populations.”

“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.

According to the Mississippi Kidney Foundation, Mississippi ranks among the top in the nation in incidences of kidney disease.