In January, the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America announced Columbia, S.C. as the runner-up in the medium city category of the 2016 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards. Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin won the award for his program “Project GNF” (Gardening, Nutrition & Fitness) and will receive a $25,000 grant to support its implementation.

“Project GNF” is an expansion of Mayor Benjamin’s “Youth Sports Initiative,” incorporating gardening, nutrition and fitness lessons into the existing program. The “GNF Clubs” will be introduced at certain recreation centers in the city of Columbia where significant health and economic disparities have been identified. The program also includes a local university partnership to teach kids the science behind growing fruits and vegetables. The goal is to help children form life-long habits in the context of fun learning.

“It is imperative that we provide our children with every resource, every opportunity to be successful,” said Mayor Benjamin. “The fact of the matter is that our children simply cannot be successful if they are not healthy. I am extremely proud of the recognition from the American Beverage Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in awarding our Department of Parks & Recreation a Childhood Obesity Prevention Award for Project GNF program.”

To learn more about Columbia’s “Project GNF” and the other Childhood Obesity Prevention Award recipients, click here.