Ed. Note: This is a cross post from the blog of National League of Cities CitiesSpeak.org. You can find the original post here.
Local elected officials have a key role to play as leaders in ensuring children in their communities reach their full potential and live healthy lives. Through their participation in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC), local elected officials across the country can adopt policies that improve access to healthy affordable food and opportunities for physical activity and be recognized for their efforts.
To date, nearly 460 mayors, city council members, county commissioners and other local elected officials are participating in the initiative. More than 60 million Americans are now living in LMCTC communities that are dedicated to helping young people eat healthy foods and be physically active.
As a part of LMCTC, communities can earn bronze, silver and gold medals in each of the initiative’s five goals, which are aimed at helping young people eat healthy and be physically active. Since July 2012, the National League of Cities (NLC) has awarded 2,056 medals to participating local elected officials.
Today, at a celebratory event at NLC’s Congress of Cities and Exposition in Austin, Texas, NLC honored 23 cities and counties who earned gold medals in all five LMCTC goal areas. This is the highest distinction a community can receive from the LMCTC initiative. Those being recognized for achieving five gold medals included:
Annapolis, MD; Avondale, AZ; Beaumont, TX; Boise, ID; Burleson, TX; Chester, PA; Columbia, SC; Columbus, OH; Fontana, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Greenbelt, MD; Jersey City, NJ; Kenmore, WA; Knox County, TN; Knoxville, TN; Lincoln, NE; Linn County, IA; Orlando, FL.; Palm Springs, CA; Rancho Cucamonga, CA; Richton Park, IL; Rockville, MD; and Somerville, MA.
Additionally, six city leaders and two cities were honored for their leadership and dedication to ending childhood obesity and improving the health of their residents. David Baker, Mayor, Kenmore, Washington, and Alan Coleman, Councilmember, Beaumont, Texas received the Legacy Award for their commitment to not only ensuring kids have a healthy place to live, learn and thrive in their hometowns but for their contributions in working with mayors in their regions to commit to LMCTC and improve access to healthy, affordable food and promote physical activity for children and adults.
Receiving the Most Innovative City Award, the City of Pryor Creek, Oklahoma, and the City of Rancho Cucamonga, California were recognized for their innovative work to build healthy communities. Pryor Creek is transforming their rural community using active transportation approaches, policy changes and taskforces to increase physical activity. Rancho Cucamonga prioritizes health and wellness as an integral part of the city government’s decision-making across all major departments, where concepts are routinely incorporated in their work plans, budgets and daily activities, respectively.
Annise Parker, Mayor, Houston, Texas and T.J. Thomson, Councilmember, Boise, Idaho, received the Most Dedicated Official Award. Mayor Parker created, via an Executive Order, the Go Healthy Houston initiative, which created key obesity prevention objectives for the City, including fostering a culture of healthy living and developed the Go Healthy Houston Task Force to carry out concrete actions. Councilmember Thomson worked diligently with experts, the community, and the City Council on the Healthy Initiatives Child Care Ordinance, which improves physical activity and nutrition in child care settings in Boise.
Rosetta Carter, Director of Community Health Education, Chester, Pennsylvania and Diane Mortenson, Recreation Superintendent, Mercer Island, Washington received the Most Dedicated City Staff Award. Ms. Carter leads the City’s efforts on Let’s Move! Chester and has implemented creative programs around health with limited resources by soliciting partners and sponsorships. Ms. Mortenson led the charge to unite Mercer Island around Let’s Move! and reached out to a wide array of community partners to advance a culture change in Mercer Island around healthy eating and physical activity.
Those recognized today are just a few of the many local elected officials and city and county staff members who work tirelessly to advance change in their community to create environments that support healthy eating and physical activity. City and county leaders are building new partnerships with their health and human services agencies, parks and recreation departments, community- and faith-based organizations, and parents and educational providers to foster a healthy start for children. There is a lot to celebrate in communities across the country!
For more information about the LMCTC initiative, its accomplishments, and how local elected officials can sign up, visit: www.HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org.