United We Serve: Let’s Read. Let’s Move.

Ed Note: Food banks across the country are facing severe shortages, just as summer leaves more children without school nutrition programs. As part of the second annual Summer Service Initiative, Federal employees are stepping up to meet the challenge. Learn more about Feds Feed Families.

First Lady Michelle Obama helps fill care packages during a Congressional Service

First Lady Michelle Obama helps fill care packages during a Congressional Service event at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Washington, D.C. June 8, 2010. (by Lawrence Jackson)

All across America children are excitedly counting down the days to summer vacation; summer is a time each year when children and families can relax, play, and explore their creative interests together. We are, however, keenly aware that summer is also the time when the healthy habits and knowledge that our children developed during the school year are most likely to stall.

Research shows that many of our young people suffer learning set-backs and develop unhealthy eating habits during the summer break. Children can lose more than two months’ progress in reading achievement over the summer, and inactivity during the summer months can cause children to gain weight three times faster than during the school year.

This summer, the Corporation for National and Community Service is launching the United We Serve: Let’s Read, Let’s Move. initiative to change that – we’re focused on strengthening our kids’ minds and bodies.

The goal of Let’s Read. Let’s Move. is simple, yet transformative. With partners including the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Interior, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, we are expanding opportunities to engage young people in summer reading and physical activities, as well as providing access to healthy, affordable food.

Yesterday afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off Let’s Read. Let’s Move. during a service event with over a dozen Members of Congress and their families. Watch a video of the First Lady’s call to action and read the remarks.

United We Serve: Let’s Read. Let’s Move. needs your help. Keeping our kids fit for school and fit for life requires us all to work together, and there are plenty of ways to make a difference. We’re already hearing about people across the country cleaning up walking trails and playgrounds, tending to communities gardens, organizing book drives, and reading to young children. I encourage each of you to consider how you could make an enduring difference in your own community.

Visit Serve.gov to find a volunteer activity in your community.

Patrick Corvington is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service

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