WASHINGTON, July 27, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) program celebrated a significant achievement today as the City of McAllen, Texas, became the first city nationwide to earn an "All-Star Community" designation. All-Star Communities are LMCTC participants that have instituted new evidence-based policy strategies after completing the five LMCTC goals. McAllen was recognized by the National League of Cities (NLC) — the nation's largest and most representative organization for city officials across America, and the lead partner for LMCTC — due to the bold steps the city has taken to create a healthier community. LMCTC is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama's comprehensive Let's Move! initiative to ensure that kids can grow up healthy.
"Through the Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties program, millions of Americans nationwide are benefitting from initiatives that make their communities healthier and happier places to live and work," said National League of Cities (NLC) President Melodee Colbert-Kean, councilmember, Joplin, Missouri. "Cities play a crucial role in creating a healthier future for our nation's children. When cities like McAllen take steps to promote wellness, it is important to highlight them as a role model for other communities to emulate."
"Being designated an All Star Let's Move! city is an honor and is proof that the programs and partnerships the city has in place are making a positive impact on the community," said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. "Events such as the Kid's Marathon, along with B-cycle — our bike share program — and various parks and recreation programs put health and fitness at the forefront for our citizens."
Since joining LMCTC, McAllen has launched several programs designed to create healthier communities, including adopting city design guidelines aimed at increasing physical activity, implementing slow zones around trails and parks, increasing access to farmers' markets, and making the city more bike-friendly. In October, McAllen launched a bike program — the first of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley — which features eight different stations with a total of 80 bikes that can be used by anyone with a debit or credit card. As of January 2016, these bike trips have resulted in over 13,000 miles covered within the city, with more miles being added regularly.
"Each and every day, the staff and volunteers of Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties are working to ensure that every child, in every neighborhood, has the same opportunity to grow up healthy," said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Assistant Secretary for Health. "In becoming the first community to achieve All-Star status, McAllen, Texas is at the forefront of these efforts, and I wish to congratulate them on creating the conditions that support health for everyone."
Through LMCTC, local elected officials are awarded bronze, silver and gold medals for their performance in adopting and implementing policies that improve access to healthy affordable food and opportunities for physical activity for their constituents across five policy goal areas. More than 500 cities, towns and counties are participating in LMCTC, representing more than 80 million Americans.
In response to the success of LMCTC participating cities, NLC developed the "All-Star Communities" designation to recognize communities that are interested in taking their work to the next level. Once a community has achieved gold status in all five areas, they may then select four out of eight possible evidence-based policy All-Star strategies to pursue. When an LMCTC site has completed the new commitments to all of its four All-Star strategies, it becomes an LMCTC All-Star. McAllen is the first-ever LMCTC site to accomplish this feat.
People are more likely to be physically active or to maintain a healthy weight if they live in a community that supports physical activity and healthy eating. NLC takes pride in recognizing communities that are leading the way in encouraging physical activity and providing easy access to healthy foods. Investing in communities' health and wellness demonstrates a positive return on investment (ROI) and a step toward healthier and happier communities of tomorrow.
About the National League of Cities The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org