During the month of February, America paused to celebrate the historical achievements of African-American pioneers all over the nation. In March, the celebration continues, but with a different theme. March is now the month whereby we celebrate the achievements of women that make the world go around. For ages, women have shown their strength, their fortitude and tenacity for getting the job done regardless of the capacity in which they serve. From politics to the performing arts and from serving the country to serving their communities, the achievements of women have gone without notice for years.
We celebrate the works of women like Cookie Leffler, who works tirelessly behind the scenes at the Mississippi Department of Transportation incorporating measures to ensure that children in Mississippi are equipped with knowledge to safely engage in active transportation. Cookie coordinates the efforts of the STARS Leaders. STARS is an acronym for Students Taking Active Routes Safely. The object of this program is to educate children, grades 2-5 and shares, in a fun and interactive way, how to incorporate walking and bicycling as a means of increasing physical activity. Cookie also assists in ensuring that federal funding allocated for Safe Routes to School programs reach underserved communities. She’s assisted in directing over 84 percent of this funding to these communities.
We also take time to acknowledge the efforts of women like Deb Hubsmith, whose experience of a traumatic event like a car crash led her to discovering her purpose of promoting safe and convenient ways to engage in physical activity. Deb has battled through physical challenges and political opposition to ensure that others have the opportunity to maximize their quality of life. The planting of this seed would ultimately have a resounding effect on health equity for thousands across the nation. Mississippi, being one of seven states participating with the Safe Routes Partnership, affords communities of all backgrounds to be introduced to and engage in active transportation.
So to women all over the state of Mississippi and those throughout the entire country, we pay homage to you and celebrate the “sweat-equity” you’ve sacrificed and endured in order to improve the lives of others. The fingerprint of womanhood has certainly made an indelible impression upon the world. So in the month of March, we solute you!