Remarks by the First Lady at a Let's Move! After-School Event
Gwen Cherry Recreation Center
5:01 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Well, hello, everyone. And I want to thank Amy for being such a good sport and for her very kind introduction and for her “let’s help me move” initiative. (Laughter.) It’s good to bring a little bit of that Pawnee spice down here to Miami. So let’s give Amy a round of applause. (Applause.) And, yes, we are best friends. I’m coming over to your house. (Laughter.) I want you to cook me something to eat. You do cook?
MS. POEHLER: Sure.
MRS. OBAMA: Lean meats, whole grains, vegetables -- you may have heard.
MS. POEHLER: Yes.
MRS. OBAMA: Okay. (Laughter.)
I also want to start by thanking a few other people. I want to thank Representative Frederica Wilson who is here. I love her, love her. (Applause.) Thank you for joining us. And thank you for your leadership for this state and for our country.
I also want to thank Barbara, Damon and Larry for their remarks, as well as everyone from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I want to thank the National Recreation and Park Association, the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Thanks to all of you for the outstanding work you do on behalf of millions of families across this country.
But really, most of all, I want to thank all of you -- the community leaders, the program administrators, the coaches, the educators, the parents who are working so hard to build healthier families and communities every single day. And this week, as we mark the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move, we’re recognizing and celebrating folks like you who are doing their part to help our kids grow up healthy.
In fact, just this morning, I was at the White House talking about the amazing strides that we’ve made in our schools -- from serving more nutritious breakfasts and lunches to finding new ways to get kids moving through our Let’s Move Active Schools initiative. And, by the way, I want to give a big, big congratulations to Miami-Dade County for signing up every single one of your schools for Let’s Move Active Schools. Yes, a round of applause. (Applause.) Well done. I’m so proud of you all. (Applause.)
And today, with this new announcement from the Boys and Girls Clubs and from NRPA, millions more kids will be in healthy environments not just during the school day, but during those critical hours after school as well. And this is a big deal, because for so many kids, there’s still that two- or three-hour gap after the school bell rings -- a gap when their lives aren’t as structured and parents don’t always know who they’re hanging out with, how they’re spending that time, or, for that matter, what kind of food they’re putting into their bodies.
And for so many years, after-school programs like the Boys and Girls Clubs and the NRPA have done the vital work of filling that gap by giving these kids a place to go -- a place where they can learn new skills and explore new interests, a place where they can get help with homework and guidance on the challenges they’re facing in their lives. And today, these programs are realizing that healthy eating and physical activity are critically important parts of these efforts.
That’s why, with these new commitments, kids will be getting a fruit or a vegetable at every meal and every snack. They’ll be drinking healthy beverages like water and low-fat milk, and they’ll be getting active. They’re going to be moving around at least 30 minutes a day. And over the next five years, with the support of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, these new changes will be implemented in thousands of after-school programs across the country.
And when you add that to the YMCA’s previous commitment to make their after-school programs healthier, the result is that this effort could reach more than 5.5 million young people nationwide. So this is going to make a -- yes, it’s going to make a huge impact, it really is. (Applause.) And not just on our kids’ health, but on their success in school and in life, because everybody here knows that kids who eat well and stay active tend to have better grades; they have better attendance; they have fewer disciplinary problems at school.
And between today’s announcement and our work to serve better food and get more activity into the school day, we’re now ensuring that more and more of our kids will be staying healthy throughout the entire arc of their day. And if we just think about this for a minute -- we have revamped our school meal program, so soon millions more kids will be starting their day with a healthy meal. And then they’ll get another good meal at lunch -- a meal that includes more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Then they’ll be getting active through the school day, whether that’s during recess, PE class, or during an exercise break between lessons. Then, when school is out, they’ll head to an after-school program like this one and they’ll get even more nutritious food and even more opportunities to get moving.
And that’s not just good for kids, that’s also good for parents, because while parents still have to do their part at home to cook healthy at home, and turn off the TV, and make sure their kids are moving, they’ll know that all their hard work isn’t being undermined every time their kids head off to school. (Applause.) Yes, we’ve got some moms in there, and some dads. (Applause.)
And that’s what Let’s Move has always been about. It’s always been about doing everything we can to make it easier for parents to raise healthy kids. And what you all are doing here in Miami is a perfect example of this kind of work. You’re showing kids that you don’t have to be the world’s greatest athlete; you don’t have to be on a varsity sports team just to get physical activity.
That’s why you’ve got kids doing some great stuff. They are kayaking and canoeing. They’re taking hikes out in nature. You’ve got them playing tennis and running track. And you’re stocking your vending machines with healthy snacks. You’re starting community gardens to teach the kids about healthy habits. And after just one school year with these changes in place, you’ve seen physical fitness scores go up. You’ve seen kids improve their understanding of good nutrition habits. And kids themselves are giving your programs great reviews. So everybody wins -- kids are happier and healthier, and parents can breathe just a little easier.
And that’s why today, I want to challenge everyone who works with young people after school to follow your example. And I know it won’t be easy. All of you here in Miami can attest that big changes don’t happen overnight. And I know that many after-school programs are operating on tight budgets. But time and again, we have seen that with enough creativity and commitment and teamwork, we can truly transform our communities on behalf of our kids.
And really that’s been the story of Let’s Move from the beginning. We’ve seen that change is contagious, and it adds up quickly. And today, after just four years, healthy habits are now becoming the new norm in so many parts of our lives.
Just think of all the changes we’ve seen. Restaurants are investing millions of marketing dollars to promote low-calorie menus. Food companies are cutting sugar, salt, and fat from their products. Child care centers are offering healthy snacks and meals, and instead of plopping little ones in front of the TV, they’re making sure they’re playing and running around. And soon, millions more kids will be attending healthy after-school programs every single day.
And make no mistake about it, all of this is starting to have a positive effect. Listen to this -- today, the CDC announced that obesity rates among young children have dropped to 8.4 percent. That’s the lowest rate we have seen in a very long time. (Applause.)
So we’re beginning to make some real progress. And none of this happened by accident. It happened because of people like you, because people like you were willing to take a stand for America’s families and communities. And I know that this kind of work is happening all across the country.
And I wish I could personally visit every school and after-school program, or go to every community in America to see all the changes that are happening, but that’s not humanly possible. (Laughter.) So instead, here’s the thing: to the millions of you who are out there every day working to create healthier communities for our kids, I am asking you to show me how you move. It’s a little bit of a challenge. I want to hear from everyone. I want to hear from schools and daycare centers, and households. I want to see what after-school programs are doing all across the country. I want to see those new snacks you’re serving, the fun games you’re playing, and the gardens you’re growing.
And I want you to tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, with the hashtag #letsmove, so that everyone can see how you and your communities are moving towards a healthier future. We are getting thousands of entries in already, and as I said earlier, if we get enough entries in, we might get a little surprise from the President, maybe the Vice President. (Laughter.) Could be interesting. (Laughter.)
This is a fun and exciting way to share best practices and learn about all the good work going on to create a new norm for the way our kids eat and stay active. And I can’t wait to see all the great things that you’re doing. And remember, if we all keep moving and we keep doing our part just like all of you here in Miami, then I know that we’ll be able to give our children the bright, healthy futures they deserve.
So, congratulations. And thank you so much. I’m going to come down and shake hands. And then we’re going to get moving. You guys, thank you so much. (Applause.)
5:12 P.M. EST