Philadelphia, PA – Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius joined First Lady Michelle Obama and local officials from across the country to announce the next chapter in the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties program, which encourages local elected officials to focus on improving the health of their communities.
Secretary Sebelius announced five goals for local officials to achieve within the next year to address obesity and help communities be healthier. These goals align with Let’s Move!’s five basic pillars.
“Make no mistake, childhood obesity is a national problem and demands everyone’s attention. But it’s a problem that can’t be solved just at the national level. We can make a significant impact, city by city, town by town, county by county,” Secretary Sebelius said.
The five goals and corresponding Let’s Move! pillars are:
Goal: Start Early, Start Smart: To provide children with a healthier start, local elected officials commit to helping early care and education program providers incorporate best practices for nutrition, physical activity and screen time into their programs. (aligns with Pillar One – Creating a healthy start for children)
Goal: My Plate, My Place: To empower parents and caregivers, local elected officials commit to prominently displaying My Plate in all municipal or county venues where food is served. (aligns with Pillar Two – Empowering parents and caregivers)
Goal: Smart Serving for Students: To provide healthy food in schools, local elected officials commit to increasing participation in the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program. (aligns with Pillar Three: Providing healthy food in schools)
Goal: Model Food Service: To improve access to healthy, affordable foods, local elected officials commit to implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in all municipal and county venues that serve food. (aligns with Pillar Four: Improving access to healthy, affordable foods)
Goal: Active Kids at Play: To increase physical activity, local elected officials commit to mapping local playspaces, completing a needs assessment, developing an action plan and launching a minimum of three proven policies, programs or initiatives aimed at increasing access to play. (aligns with Pillar Five: Increasing physical activity)
Secretary Sebelius also announced public and private sector commitments to support the goals of Let’s Move!:
The National League of Cities (NLC), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is committing to providing long term support for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties through its Institute for Youth, Education and Families. NLC will be providing all elected officials who sign up for the initiative with free resources, access to experts, tracking tools and maps to track progress and connect with other Lets Move! Cities, Towns and Counties sites. This collaboration also includes support from the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties.
Through the Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) “Play Streets Initiative”, the BlueCross BlueShield Association is funding street-closings to increase safe places for families to play. These areas are called “play streets” – city streets where kids and families can run, walk, bike or play outside freely without traffic. The BlueCross BlueShield Association is committed to funding Play Street scholarships in 10 cities and towns across the country between now and October 2013 to create at least four Play Streets per city or town.
KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization that promotes activity for communities across the country, has committed to providing free materials, technical assistance and guidance online for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties elected officials to build or expand public playgrounds. Additionally, the First Lady cut the ribbon of a new Imagination Playground in a Box at the event donated by KaBOOM!, who will provide training and technical assistance to create new play spaces in communities across the country, including a free mobile mapping application to report the location of publicly accessible parks or recreational facilities in local communities.
To help elected officials achieve their goals, subject matter experts from the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture have collaborated to build technical assistance and information for elected officials on the new website which launched in July 2012. Please visit www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org.