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'Let's Move!' inspires town to get active

Date: 10/31/2012

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM — The town kicked off its "Let's Move!" (LM) participation this month with three consecutive Saturday walks at Borgatti Field.

First Lady Michelle Obama started the campaign in 2010 to combat childhood obesity and to promote lifestyles of exercise and healthy eating among communities. Agawam officially became a LM community in August.

Shelby Hall-Gibbons, the town's community wellness ambassador, is responsible for Agawam joining the pledge. Recently retired, she was searching for an activity that she could dedicate her time to when she found LM.

"I liked the premise of getting people moving and active," Hall-Gibbons said. "LM fits into what I'm trying to do for myself and to keep my family healthy. It's getting people out, up and active in the fresh air. I'm just ecstatic to be able to do this [for my community]."

Mayor Richard Cohen expressed his enthusiasm. "My immediate response was 'Awesome, let's do it,' when I was approached about the initiative. I hope people will take advantage and take part in the program. It's both fun and exciting," he said.

Another component of the city's participation is free nutritional seminars presented onsite by the local Stop & Shop. The sessions take place monthly on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. from now until January 2013. Topics range from diabetes education to rethinking snacks.

"We have a tendency to eat with our eyes. We want to get people to eat portion-sized amounts," Hall-Gibbons explained.

She has many ideas to promote wellness throughout the community. "I want to create a community garden. I also have the idea for a community TV show where kids would submit recipes and then come on the show to cook them. I also think the town should have a health and wellness fair," she said.

She continued, "Give it a try, come on out. If we continue to do good things, we would hope that the First Lady would come for a visit. We want to enable each person to reach his or her personal best."

Cohen added, "Our work with the LM campaign demonstrates our [Agawam's] desire, hard work and diligence to get the Y-Express in here. The community is willing to make the necessary changes to live longer and healthier."

A Y-Express is similar to a traditional YMCA, but does not offer programs that require basketball gymnasiums or a pool. The YMCA of Greater Springfield plans to open one in Agawam in the spring of 2013.

A Family Makeover Challenge is being conducted in conjunction with the LM program, where one family will be chosen to represent the face of the campaign.

For details, visit the "Let's Move" tab at To learn more about the LM, go to