Local government officials and the Arkansas Department of Health are trying to raise awareness about issues like obesity, childhood hunger, fitness and nutrition for National Public Health Week.
On Monday, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, representatives from the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and others gathered at the Big Dam Bridge to advocate for various educational initiatives.
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines praised infrastructure projects like parks and trails which help people get healthy. He said communities can reap economic as well as personal benefits from such projects.
“What used to be considered amenities are now necessities if a community is to grow and thrive. People who are locating businesses and industries now choose those communities that have a trail system or a park system because the workforce of today and tomorrow is demanding that. They decide where they want to live before they decide where they want to work,” he said
Kathy Webb of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance spoke about the continued need for breakfast programs in schools.
“If you eat breakfast, you’re more likely to be able to pay attention in class; you’re less likely to go to the principal’s office; you’re not going to go to the school nurse; you’re going to attend school more often,” she said.
Nate Smith, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health, also spoke.
Despite commitments from many local leaders to provide opportunities for citizens to exercise, Arkansas still has some of the highest rates for obesity, food insecurity and smoking in the country.
This year's National Public Health Awareness Week takes place April 7-13.