Toinette Ladage prefaced her presentation by explaining that Henderson is a small town of about 12,000 residents in Texas with limited financial resources. Born out of a series of events illuminating the suboptimal health and nutrition of Rusk County residents, particularly schoolchildren (Figure 6-3), the Leadership Encouraging Activity and Nutrition (LEAN) Coalition was formed to lead obesity prevention efforts in the county. As chair of the LEAN Coalition, Ladage stated that its mission is to inform and increase awareness among Rusk County citizens concerning physical activity, nutrition choices, and other behaviors for optimum health.
In response to needs identified through a survey conducted by the City of Henderson Parks and Recreation Department, the LEAN Coalition set its sights on making the entire city a park system by connecting neighborhoods and schools to the parks via sidewalks. Although the coalition secured $1.2 million in grant monies from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to improve existing parks and expand recreational facilities within the town, creative tactics devised by LEAN members have greatly advanced the group’s cause while preserving its monetary resources. Mike Barrow, Assistant City Manager, detailed how the coalition managed to acquire a sizable