Hernando, Miss., has often been labeled as the fittest city in the fattest state in the country. The city has been repeatedly recognized for its efforts to get healthy.
Hernando has been getting a lot of national attention as well for its parks and programs to help people lead healthy lives.
Mayor Chip Johnson now has the honor of being on a first-name basis with First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mayor Johnson returned from another trip to Washington, D.C., and another meeting with the First Lady, a meeting about a celebration of steps made by cities across the country to help combat childhood obesity.
"I think it means a lot for Hernando, for all the cities and towns, for the First Lady's office to recognize that cities and towns hat all play a role in the health of our children," Mayor Johnson said.
The city of Hernando and its mayor have been recognized for healthy steps taken with the "Let's Move" program for creating more parks and for the city's farmers market and other means of providing healthy foods and eliminating food deserts.
"I think that what we are doing here is educating people," Mayor Johnson said. "What I try to remember is seven years ago I didn't know any of this and if I didn't know, the average citizen didn't know. So any knowledge that I get about how to create a more healthy lifestyle individually, to put the word out to the public so they can know how to be healthier.
"The other side of that is we have to create a healthy community, where if somebody wants to go for a walk to become healthier, we have to make a community where it is safe to walk and to cycle and we are doing that in bits and pieces as we find funding for that."
The city is also partnering with local organizations to offer scholarships to kids to get active.
"Absolutely we have just taken over the baseball and softball and T-Ball league, we have a scholarship opportunity through the Rotary Club for up to 50 kids who may not be able to afford to play," Mayor Johnson said. "We need that word out there, we want every kid of every ethnic background and all backgrounds to play, we want everyone to be healthy and enjoy the same advantages in Hernando."
While Mayor Johnson and the city are getting recognized in Washington, D.C., for the health movement, the mayor says businesses are taking note of the city's healthy efforts.
"So this is a piece of creating a city where people and companies and their employees want to live," he said.
While in Washington, Mr. Johnson was happy to report that childhood obesity in Mississippi has dropped 13 percent.
Booming Hernando Parks and Rec in need of volunteers
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