This is a guest post by Gino Campana, councilmember, Fort Collins, Colo.
It was an honor to participate in a daylong celebratory event at the White House for the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) movement. Together with First Lady Michelle Obama, we celebrated the milestone of 500 communities joining LMCTC, as well as the 52 communities that have received gold medals in each of the five LMCTC goals.
I was struck by the diversity of approaches represented among participants in achieving a common goal to ensure all children grow up healthy and have the ability to reach their full potential. To me, this event spoke to the importance of the first lady’s vision to eliminate childhood obesity.
I took on the Let’s MoveI Cities Towns and Counties program in Fort Collins because I believe in a healthy community. It is important that community leaders model good nutrition and physical activity for our youth. Based on all the people I met in Washington, local leaders are affecting positive change in communities throughout the nation, and working to make the healthy choice the easy choice for their residents.
Another takeaway from the White House meeting occurred in my morning breakout session when a participant touched on a theme I had not fully considered in the context of LMCTC. He said that healthy communities are safer communities, and directly correlated the availability of healthy foods, enough of the right things to eat and access to exercise with a reduction in crime.
Simply put, people who are not hungry make better decisions. This highlighted how widespread the impacts of Let’s Move! can be; when we make the healthy choice and encourage our constituents to do the same, we are also making the safer and more budget-friendly choice.
I left Washington with a renewed drive to become an LMCTC All-Star community. This movement is achieving measurable results in lowering childhood obesity rates by fostering alignment and cooperation among local agencies. The best part of the celebratory event at the White House was the affirmation I received from the First Lady and my peers in other cities that we’re on the right track and that we’re on this journey together.
In the spirit of collaboration, Fort Collins offered several elements of our program to the participants in our small group session. I would love to hear from communities either interested in the work we are doing or who can suggest ways we can improve our results. NLC staff work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services staff on a peer sharing network where communities can identify areas of interest and share ideas and solutions to succeed in sustaining their efforts. This collaboration is critical to the next five years of LMCTC and to the health of our communities.
For Fort Collins to become an LMCTC All-Star community, we are moving forward on:
- Bicycle friendly community programs, multi-modal infrastructure and slow zones
- Urban farming, demonstration gardens and community garden programs
- Meeting policies that incentivize not only healthy food but locally-produced foods
- Integrating food production into economic strategies
- Wellness program development
- Business recognition programs
About the Author: Gino Campana is a councilmember representing District 3 in Fort Collins, Colo.