The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • Changing the Story about Mental Health in America

    Today, in support of her Joining Forces initiative, the First Lady spoke at the launch of The Campaign to Change Direction, a nation-wide effort to raise awareness around mental health in America. Spearheaded by Give an Hour and co-sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the campaign is designed to change the story of mental health across the nation by urging all Americans to learn the signs of mental illness.

    While there has been much media attention on mental health in the military and veteran community, it is incredibly important to understand that mental health isn’t just a military issue -- it is a human issue. Mental health conditions impact our children, our grandparents, and our neighbors. Every year, roughly one in five adults -- or more than 40 million Americans -- experience a diagnosable mental health condition like depression or anxiety.

    It’s up to all of us to change the conversation by encouraging everyone to reach out when a friend, co-worker, veteran, or loved one might be struggling, and to ask for help when we need it for ourselves.  

  • When Women Succeed, the World Succeeds: What They’re Saying About the Let Girls Learn Initiative

    President Obama and the First Lady have teamed up with the Peace Corps to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world through the Let Girls Learn initiative.

    “A good education can lift you from the most humble circumstances into a life you never could have imagined.” 

    — First Lady Michelle Obama

    70% of the 1 billion people living in extreme poverty are women. Education can change that.

    Education is not a privilege, it is a fundamental human right for all. Through a global network of support, the Let Girls Learn initiative will put lasting community-led and community-generated solutions in place for the more than 62 million girls across the globe are not receiving an education. The Peace Corps will be expanding the number of volunteers focused on advancing universal access to education and will continue to break down the barriers to girls' education in the communities they serve.

    The positive effects that an education has not just for girls, but also for their families, communities and countries are boundless. As a global community, we are making progress. While we don’t yet live in a world where every women has an opportunity to learn, we do have numbers telling us why we need too.

  • Making Sure That We "Let Girls Learn"

    Watch on YouTube

    This afternoon, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the White House is ramping up its efforts to Let Girls Learn with a new initiative focused on supporting girls’ education around the world.

    The Obama administration has partnered with the Peace Corps to take on the challenge of keeping girls in school.  Even in 2015, more than 62 million girls across the globe are not receiving an education, and even more are fighting to stay there. In many countries around the world, a girl risks dangerous walks to school, pressure to give up her education, and a lack of support for the resources she needs in her schooling.

  • West Wing Week: 02/27/15 or, “Where Are My Hawaiians?'"

    This week, the President hosted civil rights and consumer protection advocates, filmed a Let's Move sketch with the First Lady, sat down for a heart-to-heart with a White House mentee, held an immigration town hall in Florida, and honored Black History Month at the White House.

  • Strengthening America’s Families: Joining Forces & Blue Star Families

    Blue Star Families creates a platform for military families and civilian leaders to work together encouraging community-level leadership to address the challenges of military service. Through Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden -- a Blue Star mother herself -- have worked side-by-side with Blue Star Families to honor service members, veterans, and their families. This week, Blue Star Families hosted a celebration commemorating their fifth anniversary.

    In the past five years, Blue Star Families has grown its membership and its programming exponentially. It has helped 700,000 military family members experience the arts through Blue Star Museums; it has gathered more than 26 million hours of volunteer service through Operation Honor Card, and it has informed policy makers through the publication of its annual Military Family Survey.

    I was honored to attend the fifth anniversary celebration this week, and I was happy to help share this video from the First Lady with Blue Star Families:

    Watch on YouTube

    United States Army Colonel Steve Parker is the Executive Director of Joining Forces. 

  • Introducing the 2015 Easter Egg Roll: Opening the Ticket Lottery

    Easter Egg Roll

    Mark your calendars: On April 6, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn! The Easter Egg Roll is a special White House tradition that dates all the way back to 1878 and President Rutherford B. Hayes – and it's now the largest public White House celebration.

    This year’s Easter Egg Roll theme is “#GimmeFive.” As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which aims to help kids grow up healthy and strong, Mrs. Obama is asking Americans to share five things they’re doing to live a healthy life – whether that’s eating five vegetables, doing five jumping jacks, or another combination of five healthy things.

    Be creative and show us what #GimmeFive means to you! Share on social media with #GimmeFive, and be sure to pass on the challenge to others!

  • Honoring the Women of the Civil Rights Movement, Both Past and Present

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at "Celebrating Women of the Movement"

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at "Celebrating Women of the Movement," an event honoring Black History Month, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 20, 2015. The First Lady introduces moderator Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine and the panel of intergenerational women who have played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement – both past and present. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    In 1957, Carlotta Walls, a 14-year-old African American girl living in Little Rock, Arkansas, elected to attend Little Rock Central High School. One of the nine students who desegregated the school, Carlotta was subjected to constant bullying, physical abuse, and violent attacks -- her parents' home was bombed in February of 1960. Shortly after, she earned her high school diploma.

    In 1961, Charlayne Hunter became the first African American woman to attend the University of Georgia. Enduring everyday bigotry and racial slurs, and bottles and bricks thrown at her windows, Charlayne went on to get her degree -- which has since propelled her to a successful career as a journalist with NPR, PBS, CNN, and the New York Times.

    These are just two of the influential women that took part in a special panel discussion this afternoon at the White House in celebration of Black History Month.

  • The Old Family Dining Room, Made New Again

    The Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2015. The room opens to public view for the first time in White House history Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

    The Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2015. The room opens to public view for the first time in White House history Tuesday, February 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Today, for the first time in White House history, the Old Family Dining Room on the State Floor is open for public viewing.

    The room has a rich and colorful history.

    The Old Family Dining Room -- a smaller dining room off the State Dining Room -- was established by President and Mrs. John Quincy Adams in 1825 as a place for the family to take meals. Enjoyed since then by 38 Presidents and their families, it was considered the "breakfast room" until 1961, when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy moved the family's dining room into the family's private quarters upstairs. "Breakfast room” was the Hoovers’ designation, because they ate dinners in State Dining Room. Other first families prior to the Kennedys ate all of their meals there. After the family's dining room was moved to the private residence, Presidents have used the Old Family Dining Room for small official meals, including working luncheons with foreign heads of state.

  • Changing the Conversation: The Power of Telling Veterans' Stories

    First Lady Michelle Obama Applauds at “6 Certified Campaign” Event

    First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, delivers remarks at an event with Got Your 6 and industry leaders in film and television to launch a new effort to expand public understanding of veterans issues, at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. January 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Hollywood came to Washington last week when Got Your 6 and The Company hosted the launch of the “6 Certified" campaign. During the event at National Geographic, the First Lady joined actor Bradley Cooper, producer Bruce Cohen, and others to offer remarks highlighting the role Hollywood that can play in expanding public understanding of veterans’ issues. 

  • West Wing Week: 1/30/15 or, “Namaste Obama”

    This week, the President made history by being the first sitting President to make a second visit to India. He and the First Lady also traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay their respects to the late King. And back at home, the President convened a meeting with U.S. mayors and honored outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. That's January 23 to January 29 or, "Namaste Obama."

    Watch on YouTube