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NLR’s White travels to Washington for Let’s Move project

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Beth White

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted North Little Rock Alderman Beth White at a White House ceremony on July 10, celebrating efforts of North Little Rock and other communities to complete health and wellness goals over the past year for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC).

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.

Since joining LMCTC, North Little Rock has improved access to healthy food and increased opportunities for physical activity through its Fit 2 Live initiative, which promotes healthy eating and active living throughout the city. The city has achieved Let’s Move! “medals” from the National League of Cities (NLC).

The NLC assists local elected officials who join LMCTC as they implement policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity. The NLC has awarded more than 1,000 bronze, silver and gold “medals” to recognize local elected officials who have made progress in achieving the five Let’s Move! initiative goals.

North Little Rock received the following medals:

Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart

Bronze medal for establishing an interagency collaboration on early care and education programs. The city’s partnership with the North Little Rock School District birthed the formation of a School District Wellness Committee, which revised the NLRSD wellness policy. The revised policy reinforces wellness practices such as family fitness nights, physical activity time, and food vending for students from Pre-K through high school.

Goal II: MyPlate, Your Place

MyPlate is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new food guide that identifies daily meal proportions for the fruit, vegetable, grains, and dairy food groups. Although the city did not earn a medal, MyPlate promotional materials are displayed in all city venues where food is served.

Goal III: Smart Servings for Students

Bronze medal for having at least 60 percent of schools participating in the School Breakfast Program. In North Little Rock 100 percent of the schools participate in the Breakfast Program.

Goal IV: Model Food Service

Gold medal for implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines in municipal venues that serve food. In 2012, the City Council passed the healthy food options guidelines. The city also adopted the GO, SLOW, WHOA model for identifying the healthfulness of foods. GO are anytime foods, SLOW are sometime foods and WHOA are once in a while foods. The guidelines help ensure that 50 percent of vending machines and food catered by the City are “go” or “slow” healthy options.

Goal V: Active Kids at Play

Gold medal for mapping and completing a needs assessment of playspaces, developing an action plan, and launching policies and programs to increase access to physical activity. The city utilizes Joint Use Agreements (JUAs) to increase access to recreational facilities and improve infrastructure of neighborhood playspaces. North Little Rock residents now have access to school playgrounds and recreational facilities after school hours. In addition, the city completed refurbishing projects for playgrounds, elementary schools, community centers and Boys & Girls Clubs which included new playground equipment, basketball goals, soccer goals, bike racks and cardio equipment.

“We congratulate all the local elected officials who participated in the event and are playing an instrumental role in providing our nation’s children with a healthier future. When children grow up in cities, towns and counties that promote healthy development, they become productive and healthy adults, contributing to the prosperity of our communities,” said National League of Cities’ Executive Director, Clarence Anthony.

“ A Big thanks to Beth White for making NLR look good,” said North Little Rock Alderman Murry Witcher

Bernadette Gunn Rhodes, coordinator of the city’s Fit2Live program, added, “So proud and grateful for Alderman White and all of you for your support in addressing obesity in North Little Rock.” Rhodes’ comments were directed to all city officials who played a part in assisting the city in completing the health and wellness goals.

At the forum, Michelle Obama hosted local officials from across the country for an event to celebrate the anniversary of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties.

During the event the First Lady thanked the officials present, and all 330 cities, towns and counties participating in the initiative, for their work, celebrated their success, and encouraged more local leaders to champion children’s health in their own communities.

The First Lady told the audience,”Let me tell you, I know that it is not easy to be you, to do what you do. You all are pulled in so many directions. You’re dealing with tighter and tighter budgets. You’re working to keep your local economies humming and your neighborhoods thriving. And of course, you’re trying to keep everyone safe.

“Yet even with all of that on your plate, you all have still made the health of our young people a priority. And you’re doing it in new and innovative ways that touch so many parts of your communities.”

Following the First Lady’s remarks, several municipal officials from across the nation took part in a panel to share how their communities are embracing the pillars of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties.

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