John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award

2015 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award

Top Winner: “FitWorth – Healthy City Initiative” Foundation for Wellness, Texas

FitWorth was launched by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price in September 2012 to address the fact that more than 50 percent of the children in Fort Worth ISD (FWISD) were overweight or obese. Designed as a grassroots strategic campaign, FitWorth focuses on positive behaviors and wide-spread informed awareness of healthy choices. It has three major components: Fuel (nutrition), Play (physical activity) and Work (workplace wellness). The result is that FitWorth is creating a citywide culture that values health by providing opportunities such as: community-wide challenges for tracking physical activity and nutrition in community centers, schools, and the workplace, an annual healthy Culinary Competition, and programs to support low-income children and schools participating in existing community-based physical activities. FitWorth also partners to promote and engage the community in the mayor's rolling town halls, Tour de Fort Worth, and Mayor's Triathlon. Each of FitWorth's partnerships and programs is focused on inclusivity, accessibility, sustainability, and measurable impact. 

FitWorth incorporates behavior change theory into its activities, which recognizes that individuals have to understand the risk of poor health in a personal way and then believe in their ability to take effective action. The program educates about the dangers of poor nutrition and physical inactivity in a non-judgmental way and then provides opportunities to take immediate action with proven results, compelling the community to truly change. By engaging more than 20,000 children in educational and participation-based programs to improve nutrition and physical activity, this project will directly address the fact that children and adolescents who are obese are twice as likely to be obese as adults, and are therefore more at risk for significant adult health problems. 

Quantitative data to measure this effort is collected through three community-based wellness tracking challenges. Between 2013 and 2014, 25,000 individuals participated in team-based health tracking challenges, which increased behavioral awareness through actively monitoring activity and nutrition, alongside weekly education and supported access to healthy choices. This includes 22,100 FWISD students (27% total student population) and 1,093 Camp Fort Worth participants. 

Secondary Award Winner: “Medical Miles Mentorship” Baylor College Of Medicine TMA Medical Student Chapter

Exercise, education and mentorship are the strengths of this weekly program where since 2012, 20 Baylor College of Medicine medical students educate and mentor 60 sixth graders at Cullen Middle School to create a foundation for a lifelong commitment to fitness. Because scientific studies strongly suggest that fitness levels in children are associated with both cognitive skills and standardized test scores, Medical Miles Mentorship (MMM) also strives to increase academic performance and decrease negative behavioral issues among this at risk population.

This is accomplished through various running workouts, as well as fun fitness games and small group workouts. The workout program is designed to improve cardiovascular fitness and overall muscular endurance and strength. In addition, at each weekly session students provide an informative talk on specific topics ranging from conflict resolution to body image. Lastly, small groups of students are joined with two or three medical students to form a mentor group. This group stays together for the duration of the program. Each week they discuss career aspirations, set weekly goals and review progress in meeting goals.

Taken together, these activities inspire intrinsic motivation for exercise and provide students with the stepping stones for academic and life success. Program partners include Baylor College of Medicine Running Club, Baylor College of Medicine 5K, Cullen Middle School, and the Houston Independent School District. Goals are evaluated through qualitative and quantitative surveys.

MMM was developed by five medical students who created each element, from the exercise routines to the evaluation tools. Students involved with the program say they feel rewarded by their experience and believe the positive outcomes shown by the sixth graders who they mentor are similarly benefiting from MMM.

About the Award

The Champion of Health Award focuses on exceptional projects that address urgent threats to the public's health, address TMA science and public health priorities, and further TMAF's mission: to help physicians create a healthier future for all Texans. Established in 1995, the award has recognized local and statewide programs including HOMES (Houston Outreach Medicine, Education, and Social Services) Clinic Hope Medical Clinic, the Mission of Mercy Mobile Medical Clinics, Caring for Children Foundation of Texas, Children Nutrition Program of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Healthy High/ Healthy Choices by Schulenburg Weimar in Focus Together, The Cancer and Chronic Disease Consortium of El Paso, and Julie Rogers "Gift of Life" Program. 

The top winner receives a $5,000 award to be used towards the winning program. TMA Foundation also may recognize a secondary winner with a $2,500 grant.

About John P. McGovern, MD (1922-2007)

TMA Foundation celebrates the legacy of John P. McGovern, MD, Houston, which includes his generous support of this program. The award incorporates many of the ideals Dr. McGovern valued including high impact, innovative programs that improve the health of all Texans and that are “champions” of good health in their communities. A noted allergist, scholar, philanthropist, long-time donor to TMA Foundation, and “Champion of Health,” John P. McGovern, MD endowed the foundation’s prestigious Champion of Health Award in 2004 to recognize outstanding community-based programs that promote good health through partnerships and measurable results. Dr. McGovern was passionately interested in the history and the philosophy of medicine and helped to found the American Osler Society, which honors medicine’s important historical figures and stresses a physician’s need to be ethical, charitable and intellectually resourceful. He received dozens of awards for his research, service and philanthropy including The Private Sector Initiative Commendation from former President Ronald Reagan and The Surgeon General’s Medallion awarded by C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD. TMA Foundation is proud to honor his memory by presenting this award.

For more information please contact TMA Foundation at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1664, or (512) 370-1664. Or email


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