THOMASVILLE, N.C. — Inspired by the Let’s Move initiative launched in February by First Lady Michelle Obama to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, the Thomasville Community Center is creating a Let’s Move effort of its own.
The local effort, which aims to boost a community hit hard by overseas competition, particularly in the furniture industry, has developed an ambitious program that will provide a broad range of support for children and adults in the areas of health, wellness and fitness; finances; community service; academics; career development ; and leadership development.
The goal of the new effort is to spur an “empowered healthy community, for people to know their neighbors and for our whole community to unite together for a greater cause,” says Tenika Y. Joyner, assistant director of the community center and creator and program director of the Let’s Move Initiative of Thomasville.
Operating with an annual budget of $300,000 and a staff of 12 employees, the Community Center provides early-childhood education programs, tutoring and after-school programs for roughly 125 to 130 children ages six weeks to 12 years.
The center covers most of the cost of those programs with state funding.
The expansion for the new Let’s Move initiative should cost roughly $200,000 a year, says Joyner, who is seeking private support from foundations, corporations and individuals.
The initiative will kick off January 22 with a “Multicultural Extravaganza,” a fundraising event that will feature performances reflecting a range of cultures, and will showcase local leaders from a range of countries and cultures who serve the community in a variety of roles.
And on April 15, the initiative will host a weekend series of events, beginning with a day celebrating young people ages five to 25 who volunteer through the initiative.
The weekend also will feature a cookout, basketball and volleyball tournament, health-awareness fair and run, and groundbreaking for a new community garden.
To be developed on a 1.5-acre lot owned by Rhonda Murphy, executive director of the Community Center, the community garden will aim to promote health and wellness as part of the new Let’s Move effort.
The effort also will include a physiologist who initially will lead weekly exercise sessions; a financial-literacy class; a resource center for students who want to go to college; mentoring for children; resources to help people with their careers; and projects to involve young people ages 5 to 25 in performing community service, such as delivering food to elderly people.
“Thomasville is a city with a lot of possibility,” Joyner says, “We need to invest in it. I hope this program will make Thomasville better.”