First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday recognized a Patchogue-based early education program for its efforts addressing childhood obesity.
The competition generated 60 entries from social service programs nationwide that competed for three top prizes and seven honorable mention slots.
Long Island Head Start, which oversees 23 locations serving 1,675 children in Suffolk County, submitted a two-minute video showcasing students at its Bay Shore program learning yoga, planting vegetables and eating healthy meals together.
"Seeing the kids dancing and moving and gobbling down their vegetables, it keeps us going here, but we still have a lot of work to do," Obama said at a White House ceremony, referring to all the videos.
A White House news release touted the Long Island group's programs, noting that they teach "the importance of nutrition and physical activity to reverse the trend of childhood obesity."
Carol Burnett, Head Start's community outreach and recruitment coordinator, said the group learned of its honorable mention nod, which provoked "lots of smiles and lots of joy" among the program's children, parents and staff.
"There was a lot of jumping," Burnett said. "Definitely a lot more exercising was going on that day."
Burnett said the Head Start centers aim to teach a healthy lifestyle to combat rising childhood obesity rates.
"If they have health issues now, the likelihood of developing more problems as an adult are greater," Burnett said. "We want to be able to break that cycle."