The White House
Office of the First Lady
Remarks by the First Lady at "Let's Move!" Student Event
Maple Avenue Elementary School
Newark, New Jersey
2:25 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Wow! (Applause.) Oh, my goodness, this is very exciting. (Laughter.) How are you guys doing? (Applause.) Are we excited?
MRS. OBAMA: Are we fired up?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, we are just very, very proud of you all. And we are just honored to be here. But I want to start by thanking Hydia, one of your classmates -- right? Let’s give Hydia a big round of applause for her very kind introduction. (Applause.) She did an outstanding job, and she is a wonderful representative of you guys.
And I got to meet a few of the students here. You guys are some -- you're a sharp crew. Very, very impressed. (Applause.) Very impressed.
I also want to thank everyone from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for all their help in this effort and putting this program together today. I also want to thank your mayor, Cory Booker. He is amazing. (Applause.) Your mayor is doing just a phenomenal job of leading the way for other cities around the country -- because we want every city in this country to embrace this effort and to do the comprehensive work that Mayor Booker is doing here today. So he is a true leader. And he has been a phenomenal partner to me. And you guys are very lucky to have someone as intelligent and committed -- and funny -- (laughter) -- he is funny -- as Mayor Booker. So we're just honored to have him with us today.
And I want to thank Principal Washington. Let’s give her a round of applause. (Applause.) Thank you for hosting us. And to all of the teachers and the faculty and any parents and grandparents and extended family members of Maple Avenue who are here who helped make this day special, and to all the elected officials and all the important people throughout Newark who are here to honor you all -- you see all these lights and cameras here? They’re here because of you all. And we're just -- we're excited about what we can do with you guys.
Now, I have to tell you that spending time with young people like all of you is my absolute favorite thing that I do as First Lady. It is my favorite thing -- because I love to hear your energy. It fills me up. So when I'm tired, I hear you guys screaming and you're shouting and you're ready to go, that pumps me up. I'm excited to hear your imagination, because you guys say some of the most wonderful things. You have some of the best observations. It’s just exciting to talk to you. I love hearing about what you’re learning in school and what you hope to be when you grow up -- because it keeps us focused on what’s really important, because everything we do in this country must be for you all. So we want to know that you're taking it in and you're thinking about life, and you're making big plans, and as the President says, that you're dreaming big, huge, gigantic dreams.
In smart, passionate young people like all of you, we see the future of this country. You all are it. I see the discoveries that you’re going to make, and the businesses that you’re going to build. In you, I see all the exciting books that you’ll write when you get older, and all the people that you’re going to help. So you all inspire me. And you just don't inspire me; you inspire the President and all leaders across the country. So never doubt the power of your voices.
But I also know that in order for all of you guys to do all that we expect for you to do in the future, that you're going to need lots and lots of energy, right? You got to be healthy if you're going to change the world, right?
MRS. OBAMA: And to have energy, you got to eat right. Right? You got to eat good food. You got to move your body. You got to exercise, right?
MRS. OBAMA: So that you grow up healthy and strong. So we need you to be that way. The problem, though, is that right now a lot of kids aren’t eating healthy. You know some kids, right? Not everybody is doing what they're supposed to do. They're not eating their vegetables. They're going down the street and having chips for breakfast and soda pop for every meal of the day, right?
MRS. OBAMA: That fruit drink, that red stuff that turns your mouth all red -- too much of that. And you spend a little too much time watching TV. I’m sorry, I know you're excited, but sometimes you got to turn the TV off. I know. (Laughter.) I’m sorry to bear bad news. But you’re playing too many video games.
MRS. OBAMA: I know. (Laughter.) What? (Laughter.) You sound like my kids. (Laughter.) Yes, you’re doing too much of that instead of running around. That's what kids -- you all supposed to be running, moving, jumping around, sweating, dancing. You do that, too?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, you got to do more of it. (Laughter.) And this isn’t just bad -- some of these habits -- for your bodies. The real problem is that it’s bad for your minds. You didn't know that, right? This isn’t just about how you look or feel. This has nothing to do with that. The important thing is that this can mess with your heads.
Did you know that kids who do regular physical activity actually do better in school? Did you all know that?
MRS. OBAMA: Some teachers did. But they actually do better on papers and tests and all sorts of academic stuff when they're exercising. And that's one of the reasons why we started Let’s Move. And Let’s Move is a nationwide campaign -- and some of you got some cool shirts -- that we want to help kids all across the country lead healthier lives right from the beginning. So we think that if you develop habits now, that you’ll carry these on throughout your life. And when it’s time for you to go to college and you’re away from your families, you’ll know how to eat right and stay healthy.
We’re working to get more nutritious breakfasts and lunches and snacks into school lunchrooms so that you have more fresh fruits and vegetables in school and less sugar, fat and salt. We’re trying to get kids to exercise more every day –- at recess, at gym, and by walking and biking to school and maybe doing some more stuff at home.
And we’re working with all kinds of people all across the country to help make this happen. Your mayor, as I said, Mayor Booker is playing a leading role in this effort. He has been helping us not just in Washington, but he’s leading the charge right here in New Jersey by starting “Let’s Move Newark.”
Your teachers and your principals, they're all doing their part. They're doing great work, as well. They're educating you guys about good nutrition and good eating habits.
But the important thing for today that I want you all to remember is that this effort is not just about what grownups can do. It’s not just about grownups leading the way.
What I had a chance to do was to talk to a bunch of young people, like all of you -- people like Chassidy and Hydia and others -- a few of your classmates, like Ryan Harris and Malimah Chance and Sihorama Ramos and Evan Thomas -- let’s give them all a round of applause. (Applause.)
I got a chance to sit down with each of them, and they were so articulate and poised and confident. But they talked to me about all the exciting things that are going on right here at Maple Avenue School.
I hear that you’re growing vegetables right in your own classrooms -- is that right?
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, I hear that you’re making action plans with your parents -- this is a good thing. A lot of you are taking these ideas home and you’re helping your families make healthy choices. I talked to a couple of people who said their parents are now trying to lose weight, and instead of frying fish, folks are baking fish. Yes, they told us all your business. (Laughter.) We heard all about it.
I hear that you’ve got a Classroom Challenge Project -- is that right -- where you get points for making good choices, both at home and at school. Is that right?
MRS. OBAMA: How many people have gotten points through the challenge? Excellent. Excellent.
And you guys aren’t the only kids who are making a real difference in this country. You’re not alone in what you all are doing. Kids across the country are doing all kinds of wonderful things to lead their schools and communities.
You met Chassidy Sumler, who just spoke, who’s from Flora, Mississippi. She visits local schools and health fairs. And she has taken this on as a personal mission. She’s been ahead of the curve. She’s been working on childhood obesity for four years already, talking to kids and parents at fairs about making simple changes, like eating more fruits and vegetables and playing outside -- really simple things. But she is an articulate spokesperson and she is committed to making a difference in the entire state of Mississippi. Chassidy is an outstanding representative.
But there’s also Robert Hsu who’s here today from Novi, Michigan. And I got to hear from Robert, as well. He told us that his entire school of 2,200 students -- 2,200 students -- he got them to sign a pledge committing themselves to leading a healthier lifestyle. And I want both Robert and Chassidy to stand up so that we can thank them. (Applause.) Chassidy, I know you’re up here. Robert, where are you? There’s Robert -- very shy over in the corner. (Applause.)
But they’re not the only people. I heard about a little nine-year-old girl, Madeline Cumbey, from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She started an after-school group called the Smart2BFit club where she and her friends learn how to make a different healthy snack every week -- something pretty simple.
Another kid, 14-year-old Carson Miller from Santa Fe, New Mexico, she went before her state legislature to tell them how important it is to get healthier food into school cafeterias. So she took her argument all the way to the government.
These kids are the same age as all of you. And they’re no smarter, they’re no more articulate, they’re no more imaginative than all of you, but they’re already making a difference -- and they didn’t let age stop them. They had something to say and they made it a point to keep talking until somebody listened. They wanted to make a difference so that they -- so they went and figured out how to get that done. And I bet that if you asked every one of them, they’d tell you that they had a bunch of fun doing it as well. I know people like Chassidy, the fact that she’s gotten an opportunity to meet with the First Lady and speak to the national press just because of her efforts, that’s pretty cool, right?
MRS. OBAMA: So just imagine what you all could do.
But I want you to know that we are working hard in Washington to also help. I’m working with senators and representatives in Congress. So one of the things we need to get done is to pass the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. I’m going to talk about that until that gets done. It’s a law that will help us get healthier school breakfasts and lunches to many, many more kids across this country who right now don’t have access to nutritious food in schools. And we hope to get that bill passed soon so that kids like all of you get the nutritious foods that they need.
But as you’ve seen here today, there’s also plenty that you all can do even if you’re not in Washington. And you don’t need to be a President or a mayor or First Lady to do it. You all can influence your families right now. You can influence your schools and your communities right now. You can do it by just setting an example. That one young man said that he’s helped to talk some of his friends into making better choices.
So you can begin to be those role models in the lives of kids around you. You can do that. You don’t have to change the whole world at once. You can change what happens to your friend who sits next to you in class. You can change what happens in your own house. You can help your grandparents think about cooking differently. You can encourage your parents to exercise with you, maybe walk up the stairs. That’s what we’re doing in our house. We’ve sworn off the elevator. So we walk up the stairs. The kids don’t like it, but we’re doing it. (Laughter.)
Little things that each of you can do and you can have a big, huge impact. But remember, we’re doing this all for you, because if you develop these habits now, you won’t have to worry about it when you’re my age. And you’ll be able to teach your kids and your grandkids better habits as well.
So know, Maple Avenue, we’re very proud of you all. We want you to keep doing well because we need you to be the future. We need you to be ready to take charge. We need you to take over when the mayor and I are old and tired and we can’t do this stuff anymore. We need you to be ready, and being ready means you need to be active, healthy, and fit. So are you guys with me?
MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to move?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, let’s move!
2:43 P.M. EST