HERNANDO, MS (WMC-TV) - There's a new plan to fight childhood obesity in North Mississippi.
With Mississippi having the highest prevalence of childhood obesity in the country, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi has been working since 2005 with communities to get kids moving again.
For their efforts, the organization was awarded a $360,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to implement a national program in three counties.
"These funds are going to be used to promote, make people aware of, and advocate for environmental and policy changes that affect active living and healthy eating," said the Community Foundation's Peggy Linton.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities advances community based solutions that will hopefully help reverse the obesity epidemic. Officials say exercise and changing habits is important, but there need to be available resources.
"Community gardens - that's an environmental change," Linton said. "Complete streets, where you have room for cars and people on the same street - that's a policy change."
DeSoto County resident Bessie Shannon says her family appreciates the effort, as they are all trying to lose weight. The motivating factor for Shannon is her daughter, age nine.
"It's time for us to do something," Shannon said. "We have a child. We gotta live longer, healthier, and maybe see her grow up and show her the ways to improve her life and health."
Tate, Marshall and DeSoto have now joined 41 other communities nationwide as a part of Health Kids, Healthy Communities. The grant award will run through 2014.