By day, Stacey Denuski flies on airplanes for Boeing as a flight test engineer. But Kenmore, Washington families also know her as City Councilmember Denuski, a leading advocate for children’s health, parks, waterfront access, downtown redevelopment, as well as pedestrian and bike safety.
As a councilmember, Denuski champions healthy eating and active living policies — and programs that align with Kenmore’s efforts to combat childhood obesity and promote a culture of health throughout her community.
Denuski has been tireless in her efforts to make Kenmore a healthier place to live. She began her work in 2010 when the City of Kenmore signed up to participate in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties (LMCTC), partnering with the national nonprofit KaBOOM!, and leading the drive to replace an aging playground at the local elementary school.
Denuski then took the knowledge she acquired to coach local PTAs and other community groups as they rebuilt or opened new parks in three other locations across the city, greatly expanding the options for physical activity outdoors for the city’s children and their families.
She also expanded options for healthy eating in Kenmore. While helping establish YMCA-served summer lunches at Kenmore City Hall, Northlake Church and Kenmore Elementary School, Denuski has been instrumental in implementing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program “MyPlate” within the City.
Denuski has also led efforts to create Kenmore City Hall’s summer lunch program, and has been a strong supporter of afterschool programs such as the YMCA’s Jr. High Hang Time.
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Kenmore’s progress in increased physical activity and healthy eating has not gone unnoticed. With the strong leadership and support of Kenmore Mayor David Baker, the city’s efforts earned gold medals in all five LMCTC goals and enabled Kenmore to join the LMCTC All-Stars group – a top-tier cohort of cities pursuing more advanced strategies to deepen and institutionalize their efforts.
Since its inception in 2010, more than 500 cities, towns and counties joined LMCTC and earned 3,294 medals, with nearly 100 of these communities reaching the highest level of achievement in the program. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collaborated to recruit LMCTC cities and provided the technical assistance they needed to move forward.
While LMCTC ended last year, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) continues to help cities improve health outcomes for residents through its partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In the next phase of its work, the YEF Institute is piloting a new framework that will help city leaders address the social determinants of health – the factors that influence how well we live and how long we live – to improve the wellbeing of their communities.
And with so many committed city leaders such as Councilmember Denuski working to improve the health of children and families, NLC is confident that a culture of health will grow in communities all across America.
About the Author: Indira Jimenez is the Associate of Communications in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.