By Emma Gaddy
When considering the state of Mississippi and the public’s perception, I often find myself having tunnel vision, only considering my thoughts on Oxford, not the state as a whole.
If a person visits Mississippi, but only Oxford, they will have a very narrow, and inaccurate perception of the state. Oxford is a cozy, welcoming, and loving city. The people of this town greet everyone with a smile, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, etc.
The nightlife is a selling point for the city, along with the incredible cuisine and shopping on the Square. The university provides weekend entertainment at football, baseball, and basketball games.
As citizens of Mississippi, it is imperative that we address the flaws of our state, begin the conversation about the state’s positive qualities, and begin to initiate change where change is needed. The American public needs to see a different view of Mississippi. They need to see the Oxford view.
While we cannot deny the facts, I believe the media amplifies the state’s flaws. There is rarely positive news to come out of this state, and the positive things that do happen are not addressed enough. People who are not from Mississippi or have not visited only see what the media puts out, and that causes a negative stereotype about the state.
As citizens of Mississippi, it is imperative that we not only address the flaws of our state, but we begin the conversation about the state’s positive qualities, and we start to initiate change where change is needed. The American public needs to see a different view of Mississippi. They need to see the Oxford view.
In order to alter the public’s negative outlook on Mississippi, I would go straight to the source of one of our problems: the lack of healthy habits in the state. I will create a marketing campaign that promotes physical activity and healthy habits among citizens of the state, and I will ensure that there is ample media coverage throughout the process so the American public knows we are initiating change.
The title of the campaign is GoMiss, because that is the root of what we are trying to accomplish – to encourage our state to get up, be active and make healthy choices. Over the course of the campaign, I intend to host numerous events throughout the state.
Towns from all across Mississippi will need to come together. To promote unity and kick-off the campaign, we will host a GoMiss Statewide 5K run in major towns at the same time on the same day.
The town with the most participation will receive some type of incentive, like a sponsored block party or concert. We will record times for every runner, and have a grand prize for the “fastest runner in the state.”
To promote the run and GoMiss, we will use social media and local news outlets. GoMiss will have its own Instagram and Facebook pages that illustrate every step of the campaign, and I intend to do numerous interviews with local news stations about the purpose and goals of GoMiss.
I will speak at sorority and fraternity chapters to professors, and even high school and middle school classes about the importance of healthy choices and GoMiss.
To get results about how my GoMiss campaign would develop in Mississippi, I surveyed 30 people and asked the following questions: “How would you describe the leisure culture in Mississippi? Is it one that promotes healthy activity?
If there were resources and events available to encourage healthy habits, would you participate? How can we encourage healthy habits within our younger generations?”
The feedback was minimal, though positive. Many people, especially college-aged students, want to initiate change in the health sphere of Mississippi; they just have not been provided the proper sources to do so. They believe, as an up and coming generation in the state, we are responsible for promoting healthy habits, and we have to be willing to lead by example.
By addressing the great issue of Mississippi being the unhealthiest state in the nation, I got my point across. By talking about the subject and not shying away from facts, I convinced numerous people this is an issue that should be addressed, and can be changed.
If I had more time to fully develop my marketing campaign, I would host the GoMiss Statewide 5K, creat our social media pages, and speak to local news outlets about GoMiss.
By speaking to other individuals about the lack of healthy habits in Mississippi, I learned this state is more than the stereotype it is portrayed in the media. Despite the facts, people want to see change, they have just not been given the proper means to do so.
My hope for GoMiss is that it will promote and provide healthy opportunities for the citizens of this state, and serve as a launch pad to improving the health conditions of Mississippi as a whole.