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Calling All Innovators

We all know how serious the challenge of childhood obesity is.  Over the last 40 years, the share of American kids who are overweight has quadrupled.  We see the impact in our clinics where we have more kids with asthma, more kids with high blood pressure, and more kids with high cholesterol.  We see it in our job markets where businesses are struggling to compete because of skyrocketing health care costs driven by obesity-related diseases.  We see it in our economy where, according to one estimate, we lose $1 trillion a year in productivity due to chronic disease.

We also know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.  Solving the obesity epidemic will require a wave of efforts across this country on the part of parents, community leaders, employers, schools, churches, and government.  The good news is that, thanks in large part to Let’s Move!, that wave is well under way.  In communities from Seattle, Washington to Jackson, Mississippi, local leaders and institutions are using their ingenuity, creativity, and unique resources to develop common-sense solutions that suit their own unique situations.

We want to foster and spread the good work they are doing, so others can see the progress made and replicate it in their own neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.

That’s why I’m so pleased to announce a new initiative called the Healthy Living Innovation Awards.  The Department of Health and Human Services is scouring the country to identify and recognize community-based projects that are improving the health status of their local communities.  Whether they’ve designed a brand new tool or are using an existing approach in a new or unusual way, we want to recognize efforts, reward progress, and inspire others to replicate these successes.

We’re looking for model programs in the following categories: faith-based and community initiatives, health care delivery, healthy workplaces, non-profits, public sector, schools, and Let’s Move! cities and towns.  I hope you’ll help us in our effort to identify the very best of the best in each category by visiting our website and nominating deserving projects before the March 1 deadline.

Like Let’s Move!, the Healthy Living Innovation Awards recognizes that local communities are already leading the way on this issue.  Help us find the solutions that are having an impact in your homes, workplaces, churches, and neighborhoods, so that together, we can spread them far and wide.