GONZALES — The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America awarded $745,000 in grants to nine U.S. cities that are the winners of the 2021 Childhood Obesity Prevention and Environmental Health and Sustainability Awards.
First-, second- and third-place awards and grants were given in three population categories — large, medium, and small cities. The grants can be used for the development of a new program or expansion of an existing program.
The City of Gonzales received third place in the small city category and will receive a $15,000 grant to develop a new program, the Healthy Gonzales Initiative.
The Healthy Gonzales Initiative is a multifaceted approach to getting Gonzales youth healthy and will help contribute to the prevention of childhood obesity by encouraging healthy eating choices and increased physical activity by establishing and implementing the following:
- Healthy cooking classes, demonstrations and workshops to encourage youth to eat nutritious, fresh foods;
- Annual Ciclovia Gonzales (Open Streets) Event to promote physical activity; and
- A Gonzales Community Garden to engage youth and promote healthy eating, wellness and environmental responsibility.
A unique approach to the Healthy Gonzales Initiative is the city will empower youth in the community to facilitating various classes and workshops to help educate their peers.
“Youth tend to be more open to an idea or information when it is coming from their peers and it also provides an opportunity for our youth to lead the effort in promoting healthy eating, while having fun,” said Carmen Gil, City of Gonzales director of community engagement and strategic partnerships.
The grants were awarded during the USCM’s 89th Winter Meeting and go to mayors who initiate exceptional programs to enhance health, wellness and environmental quality of life in American cities in ways that help children and families thrive.
Former Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco submitted the application on behalf of the city before her term as mayor ended. Orozco has been instrumental in the effort to continue the success of the Gonzales Ciclovia event as an element of the Healthy Gonzales Initiative.