Obama hosted Wallace on July 10, along with representatives from other communities across the county, in recognition of their efforts to complete health and wellness goals over the past year for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties.
"It's amazing for a small town like Alligator, Miss., to be recognized on a national platform," said Wallace. "Just being there and interacting with others who are part of this nationwide effort was inspiring."
LMCTC calls upon local elected officials to adopt sustainable and holistic strategies that improve access to healthy, affordable food and opportunities for physical activity. The initiative's ultimate goal is to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.
Since joining the platform, Alligator’s Let’s Move! efforts include establishing an interagency collaboration on early care and education by becoming an Excel By 5 Candidate Community.
This collaboration has helped the town launch the following goals:
• Goal I: Start Early, Start Smart: promoting best practices for nutrition, physical activity and screen time in early care and education settings.
• Goal II: My Plate, Your Place: prominently displaying MyPlate nutrition guide in all municipal or county venues where food is served.
• Goal III: Smart Servings for Students: increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch programs.
• Goal IV: Model Food Service: implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the dietary guidelines for Americans.
• Goal V: Active Kids at Play: increasing opportunities for physical activity.
Mississippi was also represented well on panel discussions by Mayor Chip Johnson of Hernando, a city recognized for it's continued healthy lifestyle efforts.
"Hernando is setting the bar for Mississippi," added Wallace. "They are showing us what a healthy town in our state should look like."
Because of Alligator's Let’s Move! campaign, the town is now in its second year of sponsoring a Summer Feeding Program for children three to 18 years of age at the Alligator Community Center.
Other efforts include developing and cleaning more local play spaces for children.
The following stakeholders have contributed to Alligator's progress: MS Department of Health/Delta Health Collaborative, Town of Alligator Mayor’s Health & Wellness Council, Dreyfus Health Foundation, Duncan, Alligator, Shelby, Hope (DASH), Center For Education Innovation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MS Food Network, North Bolivar School District, Alligator Excel By 5 Community Coalition, local volunteers and residents.
Wallace said the event left her motivated to continue Alligator's serious commitment.
"Michelle Obama looked out to the audience and said keep doing what you are doing," she said. "That was a little intimidating coming from a small town, but it gave me the extra drive and motivation.
"No matter how big or small your town is, the efforts really mean something to the community."
A total of 330 cities, towns and counties from 46 states and the District of Columbia, which collectively represent more than 56 million Americans, have committed to the initiative’s five goals.
The National League of Cities, the oldest and largest national organization representing municipal governments throughout the United States, has also partnered with Obama and LMCTC.
NLC is working to assist the local elected officials who join LMCTC as they implement policy and environmental changes.
“The League of Cities appreciates the support and energy of the First Lady for her tireless efforts to reduce the obesity epidemic facing our communities,” said National League of Cities’ Executive Director Clarence Anthony in a press release.
“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," he added. "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.”
For more information about LMCTC and Alligator’s accomplishments, visit www.HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org.