Healthiest city again: Harlingen, Los Fresnos win challenge

HARLINGEN — Once again, the Valley is being awarded for being healthy.

The City of McAllen, the City of Harlingen, and Los Fresnos were all winners of the 2020 It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, Texas’ annual healthy living competition.

More than 33,000 Texans signed on to compete on behalf of their cities in the first eight weeks of 2020.

McAllen placed in the top of its Large Sized city category (cities with populations 100K-300K); Harlingen placed in the top of its Mid-Sized city category (cities with populations of 40,001 – 100,000) and Los Fresnos placed top in its Small Sized city category (cities with populations 5K-40K).

Mayor Chris Boswell said he was proud of the city of Harlingen and the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District for winning.

“I think it is a great achievement for both of us to win. The school district has won over the last four years and I think it is important and especially now with the pandemic we continue to focus on the general health of our community,” he said.

“People can stay healthy and eat better and stand up better to this virus and their ability to cope with it would be better if they are healthy. We are going to continue to do this every year, I hope and get people into having a more active lifestyle,” Boswell said.

He added the new achievement was a collaborative effort between the city and the Parks and Recreation Department, the school district and hospital partners.

“Everyone has embraced and worked to collaborate and to make it a priority. I think that is the key to our success. People need to continue following the safe practices, wear their mask, watch their distance, and keep exercising and eating right,” he said.

Tracy Walker, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for It’s Time Challenge, said the challenge has been ongoing for seven years.

“It is a challenge for communities to stay healthy. Harlingen has won its mid-sized category for its third year in a row and Los Fresnos has won for their second year in a row,” she said.

“It is so exciting to see the commitment of the residents of the Rio Grande Valley in those communities in making healthy changes,” Walker said.

The challenge started in January and lasted through March of 2020. Participants logged their daily healthy choices online such as a workout, going for a walk or when they made a nutritious food choice, Walker added.

“Based through the log you earn points for every healthy choice you make. People in Los Fresnos and Harlingen made the healthiest choices in their category,” she said.

Both school districts won in their category. Harlingen won first place for the fourth year.

“Dr. Cavazos is so committed to health and wellness which has had them winning for four years in a row,” Walker said.

Los Fresnos won first place and this is their second consecutive winning year.

Because of COVID-19 local awards ceremonies have been postponed for the winning communities and school districts. However, they will be treated to a Zoom celebration and digital dance party on Wednesday at 2 p.m. The free celebration will feature giveaways.

The link to register is

“It is free for anyone to participate whether you were in the community challenge or not. It is a community celebration of health,” she said.

“We will be honoring those winning communities at that time to highlight the commitment to health in 2020 and I think it is especially important now in preventing chronic disease,” Walker said.

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