Welsh will spend Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington, D.C., meeting with the first lady and participating in a focus group with 20 other city leaders.
The focus group will be led by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is aimed at discussing how cities can better implement the National League of Cities “Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties” campaign to combat childhood obesity, a major component of the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” comprehensive nationwide health initiative launched in 2010.
Welsh said she was notified of the invitation via email a couple of weeks ago and was told last week she could invite another city leader to accompany her. She chose Jeff Drobney, Kennesaw’s assistant city manager, because she said he’s the “biggest champion on city staff” for the cause. The council approved Welsh’s request for attendance at its Monday meeting and voted to pay for her two-night hotel stay for $398.
After filling out paperwork for White House security clearance and cancelling a family trip to Mexico, Welsh said the prospect of talking with the first lady about Kennesaw wellness initiatives is still a bit unreal.
“I can’t wait,” she said. “This is such a great opportunity for our city to be recognized for all the hard work we do.”
Welsh actively volunteers with Fit City Kennesaw, a city-wide initiative launched in 2012 to address the increasing rate of obesity and concerns over the health of Kennesaw residents. The goal of the program is to help children, teens and adults become more active through organized physical activities and other health-related programs, including free workout classes and trail runs.
While in D.C., Welsh said she hopes to emphasize to “Let’s Move!” leaders that the online tools and metrics put in place have helped her explain to others more about the goal of Fit City Kennesaw. For example, the city was awarded medals earlier this year for reaching different health and wellness goals through the program.
“It helps me and makes it so I can talk with people about these different areas we’re working on,” she said.
She also hopes to share her experiences with Kennesaw’s Kilometer Kids program, a 12-week program sponsored by the Atlanta Track Club that provides running coaches for local children twice a week at Swift-Cantrell Park.
The program has about 148 runners, who will end the course by running in the Run for Wounded Heroes on Aug. 4, part of the Kennesaw Grand Prix 5K Series. The program costs $25, which pays for the race registration.
“When I originally ran for office, I wanted to get people involved in fitness,” she said. “A huge part of that mission has been led by our 27 volunteer coaches who love doing it and always show up.”
For more information on the Fit City Kennesaw or Kilometer Kids programs, visit www.fitcitykennesaw.com or www.kilometerkids.org.