It’s remarkable that Lincoln already has achieved a more than 10 percent relative reduction in the city’s childhood obesity rate.
That puts it six years ahead of the goal in the Healthy People 2020 program set by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln deserves congratulations, and so do all the children who revved up their activity level and made healthy choices in what they ate and drank.
The best thing about reaching the goal is that the Partnership is not resting on its laurels. Having generated impressive momentum, the organizations involved in the effort intend to keep rolling.
The Partnership has a new goal of doubling the reduction in obesity to 20 percent by 2020.
And now that evidence shows that improving physical fitness is even more important, the organization has set a goal that 80 percent of students in the Lincoln Public Schools system meet the aerobic fitness goal in the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which includes a mile run and other measures.
The community has momentum toward that goal, too. In 2011, 71 percent of students passed the aerobic fitness component. Last year 77.4 percent of students passed.
“We have the data that supports the fact that specifically when kids are fit, regardless of their skill, they do better academically -- across the board, but especially in math, reading and science,” said Michelle Welch, LPS wellness coordinator.
The improved academic performance “ultimately translates into an improved workforce and economic benefits for the community,” said Dr. Bob Rauner, director of the partnership.
It’s clear that an important reason that Lincoln has succeeded in reducing childhood obesity and improving fitness is that the community has a driving force that unites organizations, meshing their efforts toward common goals.
That’s the Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, one of the many success stories that begin with a grant from the Community Health Endowment of Lincoln, a multimillion fund created by the sale of city-owned Lincoln General Hospital.
Thirteen organizations, groups and government agencies collaborate on ways to improve health and wellness in the community, with programs that range from breast-feeding to Lincoln Parks and Recreation programs to the National Bike Challenge to the Community Crops program in which local gardeners grew more than 30,000 pounds of fresh, healthy food.
The Community Health Endowment was created in the late 1990s with the objective of making Lincoln the healthiest community in the nation.
With the energy flowing in the community -- and, importantly, a sense that fitness can be fun -- the goal is closer than ever.
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