City Leaders from Eight Southern States Invited to Apply for Childhood Obesity Prevention Leadership Academy

Article excerpt

Mayors and city council members from eight Southern states are invited to apply for a leadership academy on developing citywide wellness policies to reduce childhood obesity. The leadership academy will take place December 9-11 in New Orleans.

NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) is organizing this two-day learning event in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), which will be releasing a separate application for school district leaders interested in attending. Mayors and superintendents are encouraged to attend together.

The leadership academy will help municipal leaders address the growing childhood obesity epidemic, which not only has dire implications for young people's well-being and life expectancy, but also threatens to undermine the long-term health and economic vitality of the cities in which they live. Over the past 40 years, obesity rates have more than quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11 and more than tripled for adolescents ages 12 to 19. Children who are obese are more likely to develop serious health problems later in life, which will .contribute to rising health care costs for local governments, businesses and families.

Given the higher prevalence of childhood obesity found in southern states, participation in the leadership academy will be restricted to cities in eight states--Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Focus on City-School Collaboration

Sponsored with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the leadership academy will highlight promising city strategies to promote healthy eating and active living among children and youth, and will have a special focus on effective city-school collaborations to reduce childhood obesity.

Selected participants will learn about the importance of establishing and implementing comprehensive plans to combat childhood obesity through policy and environmental change, and how strong city-school partnerships can strengthen their efforts to implement community-wide wellness policies.

With support from RWJF's Leadership for Healthy Communities program, the YEF Institute and AASA have identified several ways that municipal and school district leaders can play a crucial role in the fight against childhood obesity. …