Community Spotlight: City of Keene in National Spotlight for Let's Move Efforts

When City of Keene Mayor P. Dale Pregent picked up the phone in early January, he was surprised to learn the call was from the White House, with an invitation to serve as the official New England host city for a first anniversary celebration of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign. "It took me all of about a minute to say "Yes!"" recalls Mayor Pregent.

The national Let's Move! campaign is a call to action to help children make healthy choices to eat right and exercise more. The program identifies a primary goal of "solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight."

Keene's celebration was held on February 9 at the Keene Recreation Center, and showcased programs which help area children develop good nutrition and exercise habits. Numerous elected officials, residents and representatives of nonprofit agencies attended the event, along with Christie L. Hager, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and officials from the federal departments of Transportation, Education and Agriculture.

Among the highlighted programs was CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Kids Club, the Keene Parks and Recreation Department's after-school program for grades K-5. Established initially as a local pilot program, the CATCH program has been replicated in more than 70 programs around the state. CATCH participants engage in 60 minutes of active play per day, also the target duration for Let's Move! programs.

"The Let's Move! initiative is designed to get the entire community moving with physical activity and nutrition," says Andy Bohannon, director of the City of Keene Parks and Recreation Department.

The National League of Cities is a partner in promotion of Let's Move! Cities and Towns , and elected officials from more than 500 municipalities have signed on to the campaign. When officials "take the pledge," they agree to take action in at least one of four program areas: (1) help parents make healthy family choices; (2) improve the health of schools; (3) increase physical activity opportunities; and (4) make healthy food affordable and accessible. In addition to Keene's, Let's Move! anniversary celebrations were held February 9 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Chicago; Commerce City, Colorado; Grand Prairie, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; New York City; Orlando, Florida; Sacramento, California; Spokane, Washington; and St. Louis. Learn more at Let's Move.

"This is a long-term plan," notes Mayor Pregent. "If we start with the kids, we can get to the parents and, ultimately, move toward a healthier lifestyle."

To learn more about the City of Keene's programs and initiatives to reduce childhood obesity, contact Andy Bohannon by email or 603.357.9829.