As parents, we strive to give our children the best. We want them to get the best education and to receive the best medical care. Anything less is unacceptable. But do we have the same standard when it comes to what we feed our children and how much we encourage them to exercise? Do we still go above and beyond to make sure they’re getting the best?
If you’re not as diligent in promoting a healthy lifestyle, please know I am not judging you. I know how hard it is to plan and prepare healthy meals every day. So many parents—even those who know the facts about nutrition—come up short when it comes to feeding their kids nutritious meals and encouraging them to move more.
And haven’t we all had those long days when the option of picking up fast food on the way home seems so much easier and convenient? I know I have. First Lady Michelle Obama has, too. She knows what it’s like to have a demanding job, a husband who travels a lot for work and two growing kids who need to eat. She wasn’t always the First Lady, and as a busy mom wearing multiple hats, she struggled with feeding her kids the best foods. But she turned things around and made healthier choices. It wasn’t easy, but she found a way to make it work.
And our First Lady brought those healthy habits with her to the White House. In 2009, she planted the White House Kitchen Garden to begin a conversation about health and wellness. Soon after planting that garden, Mrs. Obama began Lets Move!, an initiative committed to helping children and their families lead healthier lifestyles.
On Tuesday, March 15th, I had the honor of visiting the White House to join a conversation with our First Lady Michelle Obama about the health of our nation’s children. During the event we learned about the powerful impact Let’s Move! has had on helping more kids live healthier lives.
As a parent you are probably wondering if Let’s Move! has really made much of a difference? Well numbers don’t lie, so I will let you decide for yourself. Take a look at just some of the impressive numbers that speak to the progress Let’s Move! has made in the last six years:
- Looking for a Let’s Move! Salad bar at school? 2 million kids now have one.
- Wish kids had healthier breakfasts and lunches at school? More than 30 million kids now do.
- Want kids to move more during the school day? Now more than 10 million kids strive to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day because they attend Let’s Move! Active Schools.
- Wondering why more daycare centers don’t replace juice and cookies with fruits and vegetables? Well 6 million kids are now attending daycare centers that have done it.
- And we can’t forget about thousands of chain restaurants that have created healthier options on the kids’ menus
- Plus it’s hard not to link the Let’s Move! initiative with a recent CDC study, which suggests the obesity rates among 2- to 5-year-old children have dropped by 43 percent over the past decade.
As a mom, I try to expose my kids to healthy foods and lots of physical activity, but I still come up short. I still feel like I can do better. After listening to Mrs. Obama talk about Let’s Move! and what it means for our kids and the future of our nation, I realize that I must do more. We all must do more. We really can’t afford not to. Childhood obesity and weight-related diseases are still a major concern for our nation, so failing to join this movement would be nothing short of irresponsible.
So how can you become a part of the Let’s Move! initiative? There are several ways to get your kids and your communities involved. Below you will find a list of Let’s Move! programs launched in collaboration with non-profits, businesses and federal agencies—all designed to help kids and families practice healthier lifestyles.
With this list of Let’s Move! programs, I believe there is a way for all of us to participate so we can build healthier, stronger communities. At the White House event, First Lady Michelle Obama reminded us that, as parents, we make the final decision about what our children eat. We decide what goes on their plates. We can teach them how to make healthier decisions now so they can live long and healthy lives.
Would you like your kid to visit the White House? There is a great opportunity available if you have a child between the ages of 8 and 12. This year marks the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, and your kid should enter. Create a healthy, affordable and delicious meal with your kid, and he or she might win the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., and attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House. Pretty amazing, right? And from someone who just visited the White House, trust me when I say you want your kid to have this opportunity. From being in a room with FLOTUS to visiting the White House Kitchen Garden, it was an experience of a lifetime. If my kids were old enough, we would definitely enter the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
Parents, I know preparing healthy meals and getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables isn’t always easy or affordable. I know that getting your kids to be more active requires some creativity. But I also know, as a nation, we need to do a better job at raising healthier kids. I know that participating in the Let’s Move! initiative can help us do that. I know we don’t want our kids to suffer from preventable diseases. So our best option is to teach them how to eat healthy foods, move as often as they can and enjoy life.
Are you down? I hope so. Our First Lady hopes so. Your kids hope so, too.
And don’t worry about this being the last year of the Obama Administration. First Lady Michelle Obama assured us she has no intentions of stopping the Let’s Move! initiative after they move out of the White House. She’s in it for the long haul. I think we should be, too.
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