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“It takes a Leader in a Local Village”
By Mayor [Name]
In response to a request from Congress, the Institute of Medicine in the fall of 2004 released its landmark report “Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance.” It gave the nation a sense of urgency in what has become America’s leading youth health crisis.
In that report, the IOM said that “mobilizing communities to address childhood obesity … will require concerted efforts by many partners” and emphasized the role that local communities can play in bringing about the transformational change that will be necessary to get the nation on the road to active living and healthier lifestyles.
Recently, as Mayor of [Municipality] I took a big step in the right direction for our town in making that change by joining New Jersey’s new Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC).
The MWC supports Mayors as champions of community health. The mission of the Mayors Wellness Campaign is to equip mayors and other key leaders with the tools to develop and implement active-living initiatives in their communities with the ultimate goal of improving health and reducing the skyrocketing health care costs that come with the obesity problem in New Jersey.
Like many Americans, I was shocked when I learned that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently concluded that the next generation of Americans might very well be the first in our lifetime to be LESS healthy than the generation that preceded it. If that is not a clarion call for action, nothing is.
When I learned of the MWC through the New Jersey League of Municipalities, I did not hesitate. [Municipality] will immediately begin taking the steps necessary to promote active lifestyles.
Working in partnership with the MWC, [Municipality] will work to implement a comprehensive program of outreach, education and technical assistance activities to combat obesity and inactivity issues for all our residents. We hope to:
As the Institute of Medicine report pointed out, “many facets of community settings affect the health of children and youth.” These include such things as how our streets and sidewalks are designed to the availability of markets offering affordable fresh produce. In [Municipality], we are going to take a look at all of those things. It is telling that just 42 years ago, in 1969, nearly half of all students and 90% living no more than a mile away walked or bicycled to school. 30 years later, only 19% of children walked to or from school and 6% rode bicycles to school. We need to turn that around.
To do so, I will need the support of our schools, our churches, our employers and our citizens. I ask all of [Municipality] residents to join me in this bold new effort. It should be something upon which we ALL can agree.
The Mayors Wellness Campaign (www.mayorswellnesscampaign.org) is an initiative of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (www.NJHCQI.org) in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (www.njslom.org). The mission of the Mayors Wellness Campaign is to equip mayors and other key leaders with the tools to develop and implement active-living initiatives in their communities with the ultimate goal of improving health and reducing the skyrocketing health care costs that come with the obesity problem in New Jersey. Currently, more than half of the New Jersey’s 566 municipalities are participating in the campaign and are working aggressively to decrease obesity rates and increase the overall health of their communities. Major funding for the Mayors Wellness Campaign is provided by The Walmart Foundation.
You can learn more about the MWC by going to www.mayorswellnesscampaign.org.