In a whirlwind trip, I recently traveled to Washington D.C. to visit the White House. Thanks to Popsugar, I was honored to be among the parenting bloggers invited to join our First Lady, Michelle Obama, speak about her Let’s Move! initiative, and the health and well-being of our nation’s children.
After navigating White House security, touring several rooms (and sipping coffee on exquisite White House china), we were escorted into the East Room and met by several leaders in the Let’s Move! campaign, including officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, The President’s Council of Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, The Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Healthier America. Encouraged to take part in the collective voices amplifying #LetsMove messages, I joined in tweeting away in real-time, in a conversation that was trending on twitter for hours that day.
When the First Lady, Michelle Obama entered the room, the excitement was palpable. She explained how after a routine visit to the pediatrician’s office, during an incredibly busy time, her girls’ meals underwent mass reform. “Dessert in our house went from a basic human right to a treat.” In completely relatable terms she described how she “was the one who decided what to buy at that grocery store” and those important decisions that we make for our children become “our secret weapons.”
No one plays a bigger, more important role in our kids’ health than we do as parents. I came to this issue really as a mom.
Childhood obesity has severe longitudinal health consequences – and issues of food insecurity, health education, and nutritional change are complex. Six years after launching Let’s Move!, our nation has seen tremendous progress and our First Lady isn‘t stopping. From MyPlate, healthier school meals, the implementation of grocery stores in food deserts and so much more, we’ve seen impressive accomplishments from the Let’s Move! programs:
- Nearly 80 million people (1 in 4 Americans), now live in Let’s Move! comminutes, where kids can walk to school on new sidewalks, join in summer meal programs, and local athletic leagues.
- 1.6 million kids attend healthier daycare centers.
- Over 10 million kids attend Let’s Move! Active Schools where they strive to incorporate 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
- 2 million kids now have Let’s Move! Salad Bars installed in their schools.
- Over 30 million children have access to healthier school meals.
- Thousands of chain restaurants have created healthier menus for children, and food and beverage companies cut 6.4 trillion calories from their products.
- Junk food marketing has been eliminated in classrooms.
Michelle Obama said that someday we will look back on the sort of food that we used to feed our children, and it will be comparable “to not wearing seatbelts, bike helmets, or sunscreen.” According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we’ve seen recent promising data showing significant drops in childhood obesity, and as our First Lady said, “we can’t afford not to give our kids nutritious food, because we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars treating obesity-related diseases, we simply don’t have the luxury to ignore this issue.”
I’m certain that my words fail to adequately capture the magnitude of the overall experience. To hear the First Lady, Michelle Obama so eloquently speak with care and conviction on a topic of such importance, felt surreal. So down-to-earth and genuine, she mastered locking individual eyes in the excited crowd, as if truly inviting you into the conversation. And to have access to various rooms in the White House amongst tangible American history, right before my eyes – (the famous official portrait of John F. Kennedy – the green silk covered walls in the Green Room – the portraits of the First Ladies in the Vermile Room – Abraham Lincoln’s crystal in the China Room) – absolutely took my breath away.
The whole experience was further elevated by a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden, formed by Michelle Obama in 2009, where the seeds for the Let’s Move! initiative were planted. During the presentations, we were lucky enough to see the White House Executive Chef prepare a Tuscan kale salad using kale grown in the garden.
Michelle Obama said that she has “no intentions of stopping this work, once my family leaves the White House.”
She is indeed passion and purpose personified.
May we all join in the sea of voices echoing the importance of health for our next generations while making decisions that influence marketing demands.
Coming from a public health background, and simply being a mom whose passionate about this pressing issue – wrapped this special invitation in tremendous meaning.
I’m so grateful for it all.
Special thank you to Popsugar and the White House Team. I was not compensated for this post in any way.