COLUMBUS, Miss. – Class projects. Conflict resolution. Daily walk time. These are just a few of the many ways coach Terrie Gooch hopes students and community members will use the new labyrinth at Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School.


A dedication ceremony held Wednesday morning marked the opening of the continuous walking track located behind Franklin. 

“The labyrinth makes available many opportunities. Among those are for staff development during the first days of school, daily walk time for classes, individual walk time during recess, guidance counselor use for students' conflict resolution, troubled students who need a time-out, class projects to learn more about the history of a labyrinth, measurement of the labyrinth and even a student group project to make their own labyrinth. We are limited only by our own imagination in the use of the labyrinth,” said Franklin physical education coach Gooch. 

Gooch said the labyrinth is a result of “googling.” She explained that through the grant requests from Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi, the school received money for a walking track.  

“To pique the students’ interest, we thought the unique pattern of a labyrinth would be both challenging and increase the students' focus to better prepare them for the classroom. When I googled `continuous walking track,’ labyrinth came up and I have been wowed ever since that time.

“The more you learn about the benefits of a labyrinth, the more you realize that exercise is more than physical. A school labyrinth guide, `Kids on the Path,’ states that, `Studies have shown that people are better able to connect with the right side of the brain after walking the labyrinth, which helps them think more clearly and creatively,’” Gooch said. 

Passport to Wellness is The W’s health initiative that addresses the problem of unhealthy lifestyle choices relating to diet and physical activity through education and action programming, according to April Barlow, interim associate director of the Office of Outreach & Innovation at The W.

She said, “The project operates within Columbus/Lowndes County and specifically develops programs to serve the residents of this community. Passport to Wellness is funded by The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and as part of our grant, we have partnered with Franklin Academy and were able to fund the walking track. We are so excited about this opportunity to increase physical activity in our community.” 

Bill Moss, a local artist with 40 years of professional experience designed the 30-by-30-foot labyrinth, which will be open to the public. It took him about a week to complete the design. 

The hours once school begins will be announced at a later time.  A registry will be available for visitors to sign as well as brochures with ideas of how to best use the labyrinth for movement and meditation.



July 9, 2015

Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins

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