A West Virginia University professor who has devoted her career to fighting childhood obesity is among four recipients of the highest honor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Linda Carson, Ware Distinguished Professor in the School of Physical Education, was part of a national childhood obesity-prevention team presented with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Assistant Secretarys 2006 Partnering for HHS Excellence Award.

Carson and other members of the team accepted their award from Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary of the ACF , during a ceremony today (Oct. 5) in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes the work of partnerships to advance the goals and mission of the Department of Health and Human Services and ACF .

The group was recognized for an obesity-prevention program it developed for Head Start, the nations child development program for preschoolers from low-income families. The initiativeknown asI Am Moving, I Am Learningfocuses on physical activity and healthy nutrition choices. The team worked with Head Start teachers to integrate health into the curriculum. The program has been successfully launched in six mid-Atlantic states, including West Virginia.

Carson has been a faculty member in the WVU School of Physical Education for 25 years.

She started the Motor Development Center at WVU in the 1980s as a way of teaching motor skills and active lifestyles to infants, babies, toddlers, preschool and elementary school children. The center includes such programs as ToddlerSkills for children ages 1-2, KinderSkills for youngsters ages 3-5 and FutureFit for children ages 6-11.

Carson also developed the Choosy Kids Club, an after-school fitness education program for elementary school children in Monongalia and surrounding counties. Children meet twice a week at the WVU Coliseum to learn the value of exercise, nutrition and being tobacco- and drug-free. Choosy, a green character with antennae and sunglasses, is the clubs mascot.

Currently, Carson is spearheading research into the health benefits of playing the popular game Dance Dance Revolution with colleague Emily Murphy from the WVU Department of Pediatrics. The study, funded by the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, is examining if children who play DDR are healthier and if they continue to play the game when no longer monitored. The study has attracted national pressfrom Associated Press articles that have appeared in newspapers across the country to a segment on ABC sGood Morning America.Results are pending.

Other members of the winning Head Start team are Nancy Elmore, regional program manager for Head Start, Region III ; Amy Requa, health content area specialist for the Region III Head Start Technical Assistance System at Caliber, a consulting company; and Dr. Rachel Tellez, medical adviser to the Office of Head Start.