To better understand the JHAB program, we have to take it back to the original founders. Wilson and Hartwell Furr, two local Jackson kids who were 9 and 7 years old in 2008 when the idea was hatched, started the program. They wanted to fight childhood obesity and make Mississippi healthier in some way; and they felt that really all kids need was just a ball and a place to play to increase physical activity time. With the help of the community they gathered balls, and distributed them out to schools that needed them. They collected 138 balls in 3 days. Within 2 years they distributed more than 10,000 balls to 25 elementary schools. Eventually, the program began to be too much on the kids that the Furrs decided to turn the program over to The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi to run the daily operations. The Partnership took over the program in 2010 and to date over 28,000 balls have been distributed to mostly underserved children in Mississippi.

Just Have a Ball® (JHAB), is The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi’s childhood obesity awareness program that aims to increase children’s time spent being physically active through increased play activity, resulting in reduced childhood obesity rates through the program’s educational awareness presentation and its school-based fitness program. JHAB demonstrates the role of play as a natural way for children to be physically active, and educates elementary-aged students on the importance of healthy nutrition.  Once the program has concluded, a playground ball is given to each child to keep, which promotes play and exercise in their home environments, increases the potential for social interaction, and overall improved health and wellness through increased daily physical activity. Through the JHAB awareness presentation and fitness program, students are educated about the benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle. The playground balls distributed to each student to keep and take home are a way to encourage continued physical activity and play outside of the designated and structured times allotted during the school day or week.

At The Partnership, we understand the importance of physical activity coupled with proper nutrition. The Just Have a Ball® assemblies include nutrition information for the students as well. We focus on the consumption of fruits and vegetables, sugar- sweetened beverages, snacks and cereals, water consumption and importance of getting 60 minutes of physical activity every day during the presentation. Also, the students participate in an interactive demonstration of proper serving sizes of foods. The program is incentivized with rewards to students who properly answer questions within the presentation.