/////UAMS AHEC Has Role in Texarkana Public-Private Partnership
UAMS AHEC Has Role in Texarkana Public-Private Partnership 2018-01-05T09:12:49+00:00

JULY 15, 2005 | A giant multipurpose sportsplex being built primarily to promote exercise and a healthy lifestyle to children and families in Texarkana is getting a big assist from the local University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Area Health Education Center (UAMS AHEC). 

UAMS AHEC – Southwest’s collaboration on the project will be significant, though it is still evolving, said Mike Minton, the creative force behind the 40-acre, $30 million public-private development. Other partners are the city of Texarkana, Ark., a private owner of the Texarkana Bandits Hockey Team, and the Arkansas Department of Economic Development.


At a June 6 news conference, Gov. Mike Huckabee joined Minton, Mayor Horace Shipp, AHEC-Southwest Director Bill McIntyre, Pharm. D., and other UAMS representatives to announce the scope of the project to a packed audience of 400 civic, education and government leaders. Construction is to begin in the fall and be completed next year.


Minton, whose existing Sportsplex won a 2002 U.S. Small Business of the Year award for his “Healthy Families” program, credits UAMS AHEC’s presence in Texarkana as a major factor in his decision to locate in Arkansas. As the leading health care educator in the region, AHEC-Southwest will bring the full resources of a state medical university on board as a collaborator and service provider for patrons of the expanded Sportsplex development.  


“Our goal is within 10 years to make Texarkana, Ark., the healthiest most desirable place to raise a family,” Minton said.  “We went to UAMS and AHEC-Southwest to be the health education partner in an expanded interdisciplinary program.”  


Minton envisions an on-campus branch of Texarkana’s AHEC-Southwest adjacent to his multi-use facility so that Sportsplex patrons can conveniently access UAMS resources, including health education classes and wellness programs delivered by local AHEC health professionals and faculty via the statewide UAMS interactive video network. 


“UAMS and AHEC-Southwest stand ready to provide the health assessments and education programs on nutrition and healthy lifestyles and other health support needs that the Sportsplex program may identify,” said McIntyre.


Collaboration with UAMS and AHEC-Southwest also will give academic credibility to the results Minton reports to the public on the success of his programs, he said. 


“You need a third party to tabulate your data from a credibility standpoint,” he said.  AHEC has the expertise to assemble our

[weight loss and BMI] data scientifically and analyze it according to academic research standards.  If we have UAMS scrutinizing and validating our data, our outcomes will be more [meaningful] for use by similar programs around the U.S.


Minton’s focus is on exercise, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle choices; he has produced some jaw-dropping results. Over a five-year period starting in 1997, he said, the percentage of overweight children in his Healthy Families program dropped from 27 percent to 7 percent.  Emphasizing fun in after-school fitness activities like soccer, obstacle course, dancing, basketball and other physical activities, his program built a 98 percent retention rate. The program also reaches out to the siblings and families of children who are enrolled, especially those who enter the program with an elevated BMI indicating high risk of obesity.  


Huckabee lauded the public-private venture for its health benefits to children and families as well as the project’s economic advantages to the region. The Sportsplex will add about 200 jobs and include a flexible seat auditorium that can be configured to accommodate events as diverse as conventions, trade shows, the Texarkana Bandits minor league hockey games and college and high school graduations.  

© 2004 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. “UAMS,” “UAMS Medical Center,” “UAMS Online,” “UAMS Today,” “UAMS Update,” “uams.edu,” and “Here’s to Your Health” are marks of UAMS.