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Davenport, Iowa Jumps into Let’s Move!

With a new mobile playground and a season pass to pools and other outdoor activities, Davenport, Iowa, has jumped feet first into the Let’s Move! program.

Davenport, which anchors the Quad-Cities region of southeast Iowa and northwest Illinois, was among the first cities to join First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to reduce childhood obesity. And now Davenport is reaping the benefits.

In the 13 months since Let’s Move! began, Davenport has launched a trio of programs designed to get kids off the couch and into the community.  The first is a mobile playground built on a fire truck that travels around the city so that children in a variety of neighborhoods can use it.

The second is a Kids’ Pass, which lets children ride city buses all summer and covers admission charges to a wide range of attractions and activities, including city swimming pools.

The third part of Davenport’s Let’s Move! Initiative is a partnership with Genesis Health System, which provides nutritional information on food to parents and children throughout the city.

Third-graders at Davenport’s Eisenhower Elementary School celebrated the city’s progress last week by ice skating, running an obstacle course, jumping rope and playing parachute games at a local recreation center. The students said they had noticed more nutritious food in the cafeteria and more emphasis on fitness. For example, the students this year did jumping jacks during breaks in standardized tests, they said.

More than 550 cities and towns in the United States have signed up for the Let's Move! program. The program is encouraging fitness by working with groups as varied as Wal-Mart Corp., the National Hockey League, the U.S. Tennis Association, Major League Baseball, the American Academy of Pediatrics and many faith-based organizations.

Davenport’s enthusiasm for the program is impressive. Many of the city’s efforts, such as the Kids’ Pass and the mobile playground, have the potential to be adopted by other cities. Especially important is the cooperation among groups that promote physical fitness. It’s that type of effort that will make a difference and help reduce childhood obesity in communities throughout the nation.