The National League of Cities (NLC) has recognized Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero for recent completion of key health and wellness goals for “Let’s Move! Cities,Towns and Counties” (LMCTC), ranking Knox County and Knoxville #1 in the nation among participating cities.
LMCTC is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s comprehensive Let’s Move! initiative, which is dedicated to solving the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.
“Local elected officials play a critical role in addressing childhood obesity in our country and communities, and we commend those leaders being recognized for their achievements in taking action to improve healthy eating and physical activity in their communities,” said NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor of Avondale, Ariz.
Mayor Burchett, Mayor Rogero and Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre held a press conference to announce the national recognition.
The Let’s Move! program establishes five goals for participating cities and counties. Four gold medals and one bronze were awarded to both Knoxville and Knox County, which have worked cooperatively to help improve access to healthy affordable food and increase opportunities for physical activity.
“We all know how important it is for young people to learn healthy living habits and to have plenty of opportunities to be physically active. This recognition of our Let’s Move! efforts is a great testament to the dedication and partnership of the City, the County and our local schools. It takes all of us working together to make a difference for our children,” said Mayor Rogero.
“The Knox County Health Department does an outstanding job of improving student health in our community,” said Mayor Burchett. “This national recognition is well deserved and speaks to the cooperative effort by county, city and school officials to improve the wellbeing of our children.”
Dr. McIntyre added, “Under the direction of our School Nutrition Director Jon Dickl, we are working hard to incorporate healthy and nutritious meals for our students and staff. In fact, several students from Sarah Moore Greene Magnet were invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to help plant the White House Kitchen Garden. This was a magnificent honor, in large part due to the advances spearheaded by our School Nutrition Department.”
All LMCTC cities have the opportunity to earn up to five gold medals, one for each actionable goal they commit to as part of the initiative. The five goal areas are:
• Goal 1: Start Early, Start Smart: Promoting best practices for nutrition, physical activity, and screen time in early care and education settings;
• Goal 2: My Plate, Your Place: Prominently displaying MyPlate nutritional information in all municipal or county venues where food is served;
• Goal 3: Smart Servings for Students: Increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch programs;
• Goal 4: Model Food Service: Implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans;
• Goal 5: Active Kids at Play: Increasing opportunities for physical activity.
Both Knox County and Knoxville have earned a gold medal for all of the Let’s Move! goals except Goal 3, for which both parties received a bronze.
The Mayors also announced at the press conference today the second annual Let’s Move! Event, to be held in Victor Ashe Park and Holston Chilhowee Ballpark from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.
The Let’s Move! Event allows children of all ages and their families to “explore a greenway of activities” for free. Local organizations offer activities along the trails to encourage Knoxville youth to eat healthier and move more outside. More than 1,000 local children participated in last year’s inaugural event.
The Let’s Move! Event is presented by local organizations including Knox County Coordinated School Health, City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation, Knox County Health Department, Knox County Parks and Recreation, Project GRAD, UT Department of Nutrition, Knoxville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volunteer State Health Plan, University of Tennessee Extension, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan.
Joe Walsh, Knoxville Parks and Recreation Director and co-chair of the Let’s Move! Event, says it was the planning of a grassroots “greenway of activities” event pitched by Coordinated School Health Specialist Aneisa MacDonald that catalyzed Knoxville and Knox County’s involvement with the national Let’s Move! campaign.
“Aneisa approached us about an event on our greenways and we held a brainstorming meeting where she had invited more than 30 representatives from various organizations. The next thing you know, Dr. Marsha Spence from the University of Tennessee mentioned that she was a Let’s Move! State Coordinator with a local group [Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics],” said Walsh.
“Three months later, we had a great community-wide event; Knoxville had been named an official Let’s Move! community. The partnerships have been fantastic. Our programs are more collaborative and in-sync than ever, and we owe it all to this Let’s Move! initiative, and people like Aneisa MacDonald, Dr. Spence, and so many others in our community who are so passionate about the future of our children’s health.”
The National League of Cities (NLC) is the lead collaborating partner on the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, & Counties initiative, working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of Counties, and other nonprofit organizations, in assisting local elected officials to implement policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded NLC a grant to provide technical assistance to local elected officials working to create healthier communities and prevent childhood obesity, including sites participating in LMCTC.
More than 200 cities, towns and counties are participating in LMCTC. Each month, NLC recognizes local elected officials who achieve key benchmarks for the five goals. To date, NLC has awarded 753 bronze, silver, and gold medals to recognize local elected officials across the country for their progress.
For more information about LMCTC and Knoxville and Knox County’s accomplishments, please visit www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. Working in partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues, NLC serves as a resource to and an advocate for the more than 19,000 cities, villages and towns it represents.
For more information on the Knoxville Let’s Move! Event on May 4, please visit www.letsmoveknoxville.com.