News: National

Posted on Nov 15, 2013

18 Top-Achieving Cities, Towns and Counties Receive Special Recognition for LMCTC efforts

On November 14 2013, the National League of Cities (NLC) recognized nearly 400 mayors, city councilmembers, county commissioners, and other local elected officials representing communities from across the country for their commitment and efforts to complete health and wellness goals for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC). As a part of this announcement, NLC President Rogers recognized all the local elected officials who have committed to LMCTC and are taking action, and she also honored 18 communities, and the mayors and city councilmembers leading the efforts in these communities, who have made the most progress in completing the five goals. The 18 communities receiving awards include:

Annapolis, Maryland
The City of Annapolis strives to enrich the quality of life for area residents by advocating for healthy, active living and by offering quality recreational programs and community facilities within an array of parks and natural open spaces. The City also runs several programs catering to children’s health and physical well-being. The Mighty Milers program engages 275 at-risk youth in grades 3-5. Kids learn nutrition and proper running form as they build endurance, and U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen volunteer to coach the kids and encourage them. The Family Wellness Program partners youth (ages 6-16) and a caregiver in a six-week physical activity and nutrition program. One-on-one personal training, nutrition lectures and daily food logs educate participants on the importance of exercise and nutrition. The City of Annapolis implemented a healthy vending program and displays MyPlate and other nutritional posters throughout city offices and facilities. Their motto is, “Healthy Living Starts Here!”

Beaumont, Texas
The City of Beaumont, TX, population 118,296, recently became the first Let’s Move! City to earn gold medals in all five LMCTC goals. Their efforts began in January 2013, when Councilmember Dr. Alan Coleman met with the City’s Public Health Department and Parks and Recreation Department to focus their attention on the five LMCTC goals, and the City staff executed their plan to promote healthy lifestyles in Beaumont. The City is proud of the wide-range of municipal and private partners that helped the City achieve LMCTC Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart. In partnership with the Beaumont Public Health Department, H-E-B Grocery, Beaumont Independent School District, and the Beaumont Fire Department, the City recently hosted a multi-purpose training session where local childcare providers learned and discussed nutrition and sanitation standards with a dietician. In the Beaumont Independent School District, 100% of public schools participate in the School Breakfast Program.

Casa Grande, Arizona
Casa Grande, Arizona Mayor Robert Jackson saw the LMCTC initiative as a way to motivate the community to participate in “Steps to a Healthier Casa Grande,” a citywide program that encourages families to “Get Up and Move”. Mayor Jackson firmly believes today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation and he is dedicated to developing city programs and amenities that encourage physical activity. Since Casa Grande became involved in LMCTC, the City has completed over 18 miles of hiking trails and developed partnerships with the Casa Grande Elementary School District and local Headstart Programs. The City recently developed a wellness coalition with the regional medical center, several health providers, the county health department, and the chamber of commerce with the goal to reduce obesity in the community.

Columbia, South Carolina
Besides being recently named one of “America’s Most Livable Cities,” Columbia, South Carolina has something else to celebrate – the city is doing great work as part of LMCTC and currently sits in the #2 position among the nearly 400 cities, towns and counties participating. With the Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin and Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, Let’s Move! Columbia has taken its messaging to the web, out on the playgrounds, and into the community, spreading its good news of health and wellness city-wide. Columbia’s ongoing Let’s Move! efforts include a newsletter, a show on city channel 2, a flash mob/dance group, and local community garden programs in the parks. Special events include a recent bike-a-thon, a game day for kids, a kids’ day event and special sports camps hosted in conjunction with the University of S.C. Sports Teams. The City of Columbia is committed to empowering its citizens, youth and adults alike, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Columbus, Ohio
In recent years, Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Columbus Public Health, and other city agencies have taken great strides to increase physical activity and promote healthy eating. Whether it involves health prevention initiatives, new parks, additional programs at recreation centers, or development policy on land use, the city’s agencies use a health-focused lens to advance conditions in which residents can be healthy. Since 2010, Columbus Public Health’s Healthy Children, Healthy Weight (HCHW) program has partnered with the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Agency to implement Ohio Healthy Programs (OHP) – a program which offers child care providers special recognition for their efforts to combat childhood obesity. Additionally, Columbus Public Health facilitates the City of Columbus Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition with more than 50 community, service, and early childhood education groups. Columbus is a community partner for MyPlate and has distributed hundreds of placemats featuring MyPlate as part of Mayor Coleman’s Neighborhood Pride initiative.

Davenport, Iowa
Davenport, Iowa is a growing city located on the Mississippi River. Residents experience a friendly community with over 51 premier parks and plentiful recreation and cultural opportunities. The City of Davenport partners extensively with Davenport Community Schools, Iowa State Extension and many other community organizations to promote health and wellness opportunities to all of the city’s families. Recently, Davenport expanded the Mobile Playground Program, supported by AmeriCorps and local funds, to include ten joint school-park play spots, where mobile playgrounds are stocked with supplies to help kids be physically active. A progressive school wellness policy has been established in collaboration with parents and community organizations. On Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart, Davenport’s Recreation Supervisors are providing outreach opportunities to all early learning centers and child care centers to promote health and wellness to kids younger than five and their parents.

Hawaiian Gardens, California
Hawaiian Gardens, Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Gomez sought the assistance from Dr. Alexander Khananashvili, the Wellness Program Coordinator of Tri-City Regional Medical Center, to design a program to address the health risks related to obesity. Realizing that education and lifestyle change were the keys to measureable success, “Activate Hawaiian Gardens,” a partnership between the city, the hospital and school district, was formed. Last year, 300 kindergarten children were measured for BMI, and 60 kindergarten parents participated in 7 weeks of classes on nutrition, lifestyle change, and psychological tools necessary for parents to bring about healthy change within their families. An analysis of the first phase found that 61% of the children who originally measured overweight or obese and whose parents participated in the classes had a decrease in BMI. The City is also engaged in municipal and environmental policy change to promote the health of their community. The City partnered with a local Subway Restaurant to introduce low calorie “Activate Hawaiian Gardens” approved sandwiches to go along with the nutrition policy adopted by the City Council. The City also recently built a $7 million sports center on the campus of a middle school.

Jackson, Tennessee
The City of Jackson, Tennessee is a small city located in rural West Tennessee, the state that ranks #2 in the U.S. for childhood and adult obesity. To tackle this problem, “JumpStart Jackson” is a community-wide health and wellness initiative created to make Jackson the “Healthiest City in Tennessee”. It consists of an active coalition of local agencies, along with community-based businesses and resources, working together with Jackson city government to improve the health, wellness and quality of life for citizens. To promote healthy nutrition in schools, vending machines in all schools in the Jackson-Madison County School System carry only healthy snacks and water. To promote physical activity, the City of Jackson completed 8.5 miles of new or improved walking trails in parks, and 6 new one-mile walking tracks at schools. Jackson is the recipient of various accolades for their efforts.

Kenmore, Washington
Since the City of Kenmore incorporated in 1998, the City has put a priority on family and children. In 2009, Family Circle Magazine named Kenmore one of the top 10 cities in the country to raise a family. Kenmore has devoted a substantial part of its resources to outdoor activities for the entire family, including the development of recreational canoe, kayak, crew, and dragon boat programs. Kenmore is also a Playful City USA Community, as designated by KaBOOM!. Kenmore also works closely with the Northshore School District to ensure children have healthy food choices available to them. The City is particularly proud of the community involvement process in the design and development of city parks.

Knox County and Knoxville, Tennessee
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero have collaborated on their LMCTC efforts with a great payoff: they are currently ranked #3 in medal achievements on the LMCTC goals. To achieve these goals, Knox County and Knoxville have mapped all recreation amenities, including their combined 131 miles of trails and approximately 5,000 acres of parks, and have promoted these amenities in print, on the web and in signage on greenways to increase use. Additionally, they have teamed up to form a 10-Year Park & Greenway Master Plan. The Knox Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity, Knox County Health Department (KCHD) and Knox County Schools Coordinated School Health are working to strategically help youth achieve active lifestyles through initiatives like the Walking School Bus and Kids Can Bike programs. Seeking to create healthy environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice, the KCHD and local afterschool programs recently developed the N.E.A.T. (Nutrition Education Activity Training) Approved designation. This designation requires afterschool providers to incorporate environment and policy change that apply not only to the afterschool program but also to program staff. To date, eleven YMCA afterschool programs in Knox County have adopted the N.E.A.T. Approved designation.

Norfolk, Virginia
Under the leadership of Mayor Paul Fraim, Healthy Norfolk was established in 2012 with the goals of creating a healthy environment, providing healthy choices to residents, adopting policies to support healthy behaviors, creating a city-wide culture of health and wellness, and connecting people to healthy living resources. To support healthy early childhood development, increase school readiness and improve the quality of early care programs, Norfolk Ready By 5! works with early care and education providers, schools, families, recreation programs, and health providers. All city food service sites, including 47 schools and 18 recreation centers, all prominently display MyPlate, and the city council recently adopted the creation of “safe, healthy and inclusive communities” as one of their top priorities. To increase access to healthy food for kids during the summer, hot breakfasts and lunches were offered at 10 school sites and 18 recreation sites across the city. In their efforts to promote physical activity, Norfolk adopted a Recreation Master Plan in 2011. Norfolk has been named a KaBOOM! Playful City USA for six consecutive years.

Orlando, Florida
The City of Orlando, affectionately referred to as “The City Beautiful”, is committed to achieving the five LMCTC goals. Led by Mayor Buddy Dyer, recent success to promote health and wellness include Teen Dragon Boating, a partnership to build bridges between Orlando Police and at-risk youth, and the opening of the Engelwood Soccer Corral. The City of Orlando strives to support and strengthen neighborhoods by providing a high quality of life for all residents. The City is ranked in the top 10 based on number of recreation centers per 20,000 residents. With the year-round desirable weather, it is also ranked in the top 10 of cities based on swimming pools per 100,000 residents, further demonstrating the City’s commitment supporting health and wellness efforts. The City is proud to have earned medals in all five LMCTC goals and plans to continue efforts through comprehensive health education and physical activity initiatives.

Rancho Cucamonga, California
Rancho Cucamonga Mayor L. Dennis Michael and the City Council incorporated LMCTC as part of Healthy Rancho Cucamonga (Healthy RC), a comprehensive, community-driven initiative dedicated to encouraging healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Healthy RC has sparked a cultural shift, putting health at the forefront and transforming the way the City does business. Through a Health-In-All-Policies approach, the City has adopted several innovative strategies to increase access to healthy food and physical activity including a Complete Streets Policy ranked top 10 in the nation, a Community Gardens Policy that modified zoning to include all residential areas and waived City fees, and a Farmer’s Market Policy that requires 75% of all products sold meet healthy food guidelines. In an effort to advance its obesity prevention efforts, the City has developed resident leadership programs for youth and adults to build their capacity by providing them with the skills and resources they need to participate in the policymaking process. Rancho Cucamonga will continue to advance the goals of LMCTC and build a healthier community.

Revere, Massachusetts
The story of Revere evolving as a healthy community is one of residents coming together with healthcare providers, local partners and regional organizations to help redefine new possibilities. It demonstrates how with good organization and commitment, a municipality can emerge as a leader in integrating health and wellness into all aspects of its community development. For Mayor Daniel Rizzo, Revere on the Move (ROTM), an active living, healthy eating initiative that has adopted the LMCTC goals, is a vital component of his municipality’s efforts to lead a vibrant and healthy community. ROTM is a collaboration between the City of Revere and Revere CARES, a coalition supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital. It is a Mass in Motion initiative, funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Partners HealthCare. ROTM focuses on policy, systems and environmental changes. Among its successes are an adopt-a-park program, a district-wide walk to school initiative, a farmers market, school/community gardens and two urban trails, for which Revere was recognized as a statewide leader in Healthy Community Design.

Selma, Alabama
The historical City of Selma, Alabama joined the LMCTC initiative in 2011 and became a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide initiative to combat the ever increasing size of America’s waistline. The goal was simple: raise a healthier child today, so that in adulthood they have the discipline and knowledge to eat healthy and live actively. Mayor George P. Evans and Selma First Lady Jeannie Evans enlisted various agencies and individuals in the community to partner with to create and promote health programs and ensure safe play environments. Together, they have made a difference in Selma! The city has built playgrounds and walking trails and continues to promote Let’s Move! Selma within schools, civic groups, social organizations, churches, sororities, fraternities, the YMCA, artists, community leaders, businesses, health care providers and most importantly, families. The City promotes this initiative by providing resources that make healthier living a reality. Selma is proud to have earned medals in all five LMCTC goals.

Somerville, Massachusetts
In densely populated Somerville, the challenge of nurturing healthy lifestyles is greatly increased by cultural and economic diversity. Yet, in the nearly twelve years since its inception, the city’s Shape Up Somerville strategy has become the “DNA” of the city and has been successfully integrated into every aspect of municipal policy-making, from recreation programming and parks expansion/renovations to school food services, and from urban agriculture and farmers market programs to transit-, pedestrian- and bike-friendly development strategies. Major accomplishments through LMCTC have included securing interagency collaboration to build a family learning collaborative and healthy food program for preschool students; offering universal free breakfast to students in grades K-8, with the addition of fresh salad bars in all schools; the creation of policies and ordinances around school recess and food served in school; and increasing numbers of play spaces for residents of all ages. Shape Up Somerville has achieved success as a strategy thanks to its support from non-profits, City departments, businesses, schools/academic institutions and the leadership of Mayor Joseph Curtatone. Shape Up Somerville was recently named one of 7 governmental health programs that are “worth taxpayers money” by the Trust for America’s Health and the New York Academy of Medicine.