Dr. Blair Dean, Chair of the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness, announced the 2013 Recipients of the Leadership in Fitness Awards. "We salute this year’s recipients for exemplifying the mission of the Arkansas Governor Council on Fitness which is to encourage the citizens of Arkansas to participate in more activity in health and fitness activities and help them live healthier, happier and more productive lives.” Recipients are nominated by their peers, coworkers, themselves and/or companies. The awards ceremony was held Friday, October 4, 2013 at the Marriott Little Rock.
The 2013 recipients in the Leadership categories were:
- Individual of the Year- Bernadette Gunn Rhodes, North Little Rock
- Senior of the Year- Betty Williams, Bryant
- Physical Educator- Pam Keese, Searcy
- Built Environment to Increase Physical Activity- City of North Little Rock’s Fit 2 Live Health Initiative AND City of Lake Village
- Outstanding Group- Adaptive Physical Education Methods Class, Ouachita Baptist University
- Health & Fitness Center- The Center of Bryant, Bishop Park Community Center
- Corporate: Simmons First National Corporation, Pine Bluff
- Government Agency- Central Arkansas Water, Little Rock
- Trails- City of Batesville
Individual – Bernadette Gunn Rhodes
The winner in the individual category is Bernadette Gunn Rhodes, coordinator of North Little Rock’s Fit 2 Live program. In her role as coordinator, Bernadette works to improve the health of all North Little Rock citizens. She has been instrumental in creating a healthier environment at the city offices, the development of community gardens on city property and educating neighborhood associations about how to make their streets safer to walk and bike. Bernadette is a big picture thinker, a successful planner and relationship builder. She serves on numerous state and city committees, task forces, and work groups focused on promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles. In the words of one of her supporters, “Bernadette has a special knack for bringing together the people and resources necessary to get an idea off the ground.” You are likely to see Bernadette biking or walking to work and meetings, or on KATV’s morning show providing viewers with examples of ways to be active. It’s not just a job to Bernadette, it’s her passion.
Built Environment to Increase Physical Activity – City of North Little Rock’s Fit 2 Live Health Initiative
North Little Rock’s commitment to increase physical activity by transforming the built environment is expressed in ways large and small. At the heart of the transformation is the city’s Fit 2 Live initiative and leadership staff whose collaborative efforts have brought the right entities together at the right time. The successes are many including 33.4 miles of paved bike and pedestrian paths, 53.9 miles of natural surface single mountain bike track, 4.8 miles of designated bike lanes, 26.7 miles of street with shared lane markings and 100 miles of signed bike routes. Bike parking is prevalent in North Little Rock with 88 new racks available for installation in front of businesses, churches, schools and recreation areas. Walkability studies have occurred in six North Little Rock neighborhoods resulting in short and long term recommendations and the formation of community workgroups. Repairs to sidewalks, streets and curbs to improve walkability have occurred citywide. The city has adopted official policies to support walking, biking and transit, allowing its citizens and visitors to incorporate physical activity in their lives. Recognizing that a built environment involves more than the city structure and policies, the Fit 2 Live staff and its collaborators work with elementary schools to incorporate walking and bicycling education into the curriculum. The City also partners with neighborhood associations, public housing, ministries, and non-profit organizations to offer educational programs, helmet fittings/giveaways at neighborhood festivals and special events. The City’s high level of commitment ensures continued positive results.