Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Michelle Obama's TV Special For Let's Move!

African Americans & childhood obesity in the spotlight; Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, urban farming expert Will Allen featured in program
UPDATE: Video clips from the program are here
First Lady Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign gets its first one-hour cable television outing on October 29, when TV One's Washington Watch with Roland Martin will premiere a special episode, Let's Move With First Lady Michelle Obama. In an interview shot on the White House grounds and by the Kitchen Garden, Mrs. Obama will discuss the cornerstones of her national initiative with host Roland Martin, with a particular focus on the impact of childhood obesity on African Americans, and the complicated challenges involved in changing this.

The episode continues Mrs. Obama's particular outreach to African American communities with Let's Move!; obesity has a statistically higher prevalence among both children and adults than in other populations. Martin is a columnist for Essence, as well as a CNN political analyst, and Washington Watch is a public affairs program that covers issues of concern for African Americans. Host network TV One is specifically focused on African American viewers, and beamed into more than 50 million households, according to its corporate statement.

“I thought that, if I don't realize that my habits and our cultural transitions are affecting our children, then where is everybody else on this issue?” Mrs. Obama told Martin during her interview. “And having conversations across the country, [I was] finding that more families are struggling with this issue, not realizing the impact that it’s having, particularly on the African American community -- one in three kids in this country is overweight or obese, but in our community, 40 percent of our kids are overweight or obese.”

In July, the First Lady brought the campaign to the 101st NAACP Convention in Kansas City, and more recently, she spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Conference in DC. Last week, Mrs. Obama did a phone interview with radio host Tom Joyner on his eponymous morning show, which focuses on black listeners; she was talking Election 2010, but also discussed Let's Move!, too.

Food access and affordability, food deserts, the National School Lunch Program, and the HealthierUS School Challenge are all covered during the special, with Mrs. Obama stressing the importance of change at every level: Home, schools, community.

“The truth is, is that the crisis that we’re facing around childhood obesity hits everything,” Mrs. Obama told Martin. "It’s about education, what our kids are learning about nutrition in the schools, the quality of the food in the schools. It’s about our neighborhood development...are we structuring communities in a way that facilitate healthy living? Are there accessible and affordable healthy foods in our communities?"

Benjamin, Allen, Fresh Grocer, River Terrace Elementary School...
During the episode, Martin interviews Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Will Allen, America's foremost urban farming expert, who runs Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Allen has created pathbreaking ways to grow food crops in limited space to address issues with food access and affordability in urban areas, and he was one of the guest speakers at the White House when Mrs. Obama launched Let's Move! last February (above).

Martin also takes viewers for a visit to Fresh Grocer, a supermarket in an African American neighborhood in Philadelphia, which Mrs. Obama visited during her very first roadtrip for Let's Move! last February; she talked food deserts and food affordability during her remarks. The episode also highlights DC's River Terrace Elementary School, which was honored by the White House and USDA last week for exemplary nutrition and fitness programs. The school is DC's first and only school to achieve the Gold award for the HealthierUS School Challenge, a critical component of the Let's Move! campaign. Students and staff from River Terrace visited the White House on October 7, and toured Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden with Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses. They've also gotten a shout-out in two of Mrs. Obama's speeches about her campaign.

*Let's Move With First Lady Michelle Obama premieres at 10:00 PM on October 29 on TV One, and repeats at 1:00 AM. Check your local listings.

*AP photo at top; second by EGK/Obama Foodorama