WESLACO – Several Rio Grande Valley communities have been recognized for their results in the annual It's Time Texas Community Challenge which concluded earlier this month.

Two groups in particular, PSJA ISD and the City of McAllen won first place awards in their category.

PSJA has been participating in the challenge since 2014. As a whole, the district began participating to help fight obesity, which more often than not is a problem in the Rio Grande Valley.

“This is a competition and we're trying to get everybody healthy,” Chief of Technology and Student Services for PSJA Adrian Garcia said. “I think our commitment is intentional which is why we are able to win this (award).”

Garcia echoes most by saying as a region obesity is a problem but by competing in events like this help change the status quo.

For the second year in a row the City of McAllen not only won their category in the competition but also had more than 4,195 members upload more than 7,000 health selfies and losing 487 pounds. Their partnership with McAllen ISD was important for the city leaders in establishing healthy habits now, in turn forming a healthier adult in the future.

“This was a unique opportunity for McAllen residents to get healthy,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. “It was a win all the way around, we increased healthy activity and we have bragging rights now for being one of the healthiest large cities in Texas.”

The statewide competition, developed in 2012, mobilizes community members, schools, businesses, organizations and mayors around healthy living and provides them with the tools and motivation to make health a part of their daily routine.

Over the course of eight weeks contestants earned points for their cities or towns by participating in activities such as posting healthy selfies, organizing healthy workplace activities, signing healthy school pledges and tracking physical activity and weight loss.

Texas is ranked 14th among states having the highest obesity rates and the annual challenge is a much needed and impactful program which draws partnership from businesses, government, schools, nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

More than 25,000 Texans of 365 cities across Texas participated in the 2019 Community Challenge. Participants logged over 200,000 healthy actions and 79 Texas mayors pledged to make their communities a healthier place to live.

The winning communities in each size category received an $1,800 grant to put toward future community health efforts. Members of each winning, runner-up and recognized community, as well as the individuals who earned the most points were recognized during local celebrations.


Winning Communities of the 2019 Community Challenge

Metro – Austin

Large – McAllen

Mid-Size – Harlingen

Small – Los Fresnos

Extra-Small – Smithville


Winning School Districts of the 2019 Community Challenge

Metro – North East ISD

Large – PSJA ISD

Mid-Size – Harlingen CISD

Small – Los Fresnos CISD

Extra-Small – Port Isabel ISD