For more information on the Let's Move! Active Schools campaign,
First Lady Michelle Obama returned to her hometown today to
announce a new initiative called "Let's Move! Active Schools,"
which aims to promote an active lifestyle in kids before, during
and after school.
The initiative is a partnership between the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign and
Nike, which has pledged $50 million to get kids moving. Several
other organizations also have pledged support and funding to ensure
that there is increased physical activity for kids in 50,000
schools over the next five years.
The organizations laid out two objectives for the program: to
create early, positive experiences for kids in sport and physical
activity, and to integrate physical activity into everyday
"This is a ground-breaking, earth-shattering, awesomely
inspiring day," Obama said at the launch. "We all need to dig a
little deeper, start getting even more creative… to once again make
being active a way of life for our kids."
Today's announcement, staged at McCormick Place, included 6,500
Chicago Public School students, who danced, jumped and moved along
with ten Nike athletes, including Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas,
tennis star Serena Williams, Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix and San
Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. American Idol winner
Jordyn Sparks closed the rally with a performance.
A study by Nike found that only one in three children in the
United States is active daily, meaning that this is the most
physically inactive time in American history. However, Let's Move!
organizers say that kids who do get some form of exercise, whether
through organized sports or taking the dog for a walk, excel in
school and go on to live healthier, active lives as adults.
"Depressing statistics can't make us act," said James Gavin,
chairman of the Partnership for a Healthier America's Board of
Directors. "But if we don't change the path we're on, our children
will live shorter lives than their parents."
Obama also addressed the CPS students, telling them that her own
upbringing means they have a lot in common with each other.
"Growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money," she said. "I
grew up in a little bitty apartment on the South Side of Chicago …
Although I am the First Lady of the United States of America ... I
am no different from you."
She emphasized the importance of making good choices, including
working hard in school, being physically active, turning off the
TV, and eating healthy food.
"You and you alone have the power to choose the life you want
for yourself," she said. "You all have every reason to be hopeful
about your future."
Obama said that her own athletic endeavors, including day camp
at the Chicago Park District, helped her learn more about being
part of a team and winning and losing with grace.
"My brother, Craig, and I, we had countless opportunities to be
active every single day," Obama said. "Quality physical education
comes in all different forms and it doesn't have to cost a
She specifically mentioned Chicago suburb Elk Grove Village,
which starts the day with a 20-minute kickboxing time and
encourages "brain breaks" throughout the day to get kids
Obama, Gavin and Nike CEO Mark Parker all emphasized the
importance of parents, teachers, school administrators and
community leaders all working together to accomplish the goal of
having healthier, more active kids.
"A united front makes me very hopeful for future generations,"
Parker said. "We recognize there must be a greater sense of urgency
to address this epidemic."
To that end, they are seeking "champions" of the cause who will
help lead schools to embrace the Healthy Schools model already
being used at 15,000 schools.
"We're going to need everyone on board," Obama said. "Every
single one of these kids is special … It's up to us as the
grown-ups in the room to help them to fulfill that potential."
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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