By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Mayor Jack Reed Jr. will push for more local-level health initiatives after his meeting Wednesday with first lady Michelle Obama.
Reed joined Obama and about seven other mayors at the Lenfest Police Athletic Center in Philadelphia to promote the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity.
The mayors had been invited because of their commitments to health. Mississippi was the only state with two mayors represented: Reed and Harvey Johnson Jr. of Jackson.
Reed was chosen in part because of his creation of the “Mayor’s Task Force On A Healthy City,” a citizen-led group that has launched a series of programs encouraging active lifestyles for young and old.
“They said if we’re going to make a meaningful dent in childhood obesity in this generation that it’s going to come from the city or county level,” Reed told the Daily Journal by phone afterward. “There’s nothing much they can do at the national level.”
Among the announcements Obama made was that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association will help fund 40 new Play Streets, which are “roads closed to traffic and open to the community to encourage physical activity,” according to a press release by the Partnership for a Healthier America.
Reed said he intends to seek a Play Street for Tupelo.
“Thanks to the commitments we’re announcing today, our cities, towns and counties will be able to do even more,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, according to PHA. “We still have a long way to go to solve this problem. But if leaders like these keep coming to the table and we all keep working together, then I am confident that we can give all our children the happy, healthy futures they so richly deserve.”
Reed said he was proud that Tupelo received special recognition by the first lady and that she personally thanked him for the city’s efforts.
“She said, ‘Thank you so much for the good work you’re doing, I know it means a lot to the lives of the citizens in Tupelo,’” Reed recalled. “It was a huge honor.”
Reed was scheduled to return home late Wednesday.