Thursday, February 28, 2013

Michelle Obama Gets Major Support From NIKE For New 'Let's Move! Active Schools' Initiative

First Lady sets goal of getting 50,000 schools enrolled in fitness program over next five years; the shoemaker will provides $50 million in support funding...
Chicago, Illinois - First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday continued the third anniversary celebration for her childhood obesity campaign by announcing Let's Move! Active Schools, a new national initiative to help schools provide children with the federally recommended sixty minutes of daily physical activity.  Surrounded by sports heroes and Olympians at McCormick Place, Mrs. Obama announced a goal of getting 50,000 schools enrolled over the next five years, and $70 million in funding in the first-of-its kind collaboration between the private sector and foundations, including $50 million from shoemaker NIKE, Inc. (Above, Mrs. Obama with tennis star Serena Williams, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and kids)

"This is a groundbreaking, earth-shattering, awesomely-inspiring day," Mrs. Obama declared, clad in a red and black yoga suit as she addressed the delighted crowd of about six thousand, who included local teachers and students.

The program is designed to "mobilize" physical education teachers, classroom teachers, administrators, school staff, and parents to become "school champions" for their community, said Mrs. Obama.

"Our kids spend about half their waking hours in school.  But today, due to budget cuts and limited resources, many schools simply can’t afford the activities we all took for granted when we were growing up," Mrs. Obama said. 

"With each passing year, schools feel like it's just getting harder to find the time, the money, and the will to help our kids be activeBut just because it's hard doesn't mean we should stop trying--it means we should try harder. It means that all of us--not just educators, but businesses and non-profits and ordinary citizens--we all need to dig deeper and start getting even more creative."

The First Lady encouraged everyone to sign up on the new website for the project, A six-step process creates a detailed outline for how schools can increase physical activity and resources, and offers links to available grants.

Only one in three children is active on a daily basis, Mrs. Obama said.  And only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools and 2% of high schools offer daily P.E..  Only nine states require recess in elementary schools.   

"It's about all of us coming together to once again make being active a way of life for our kids," Mrs. Obama said.  "And it’s about showing our kids that being active is fun."

In addition to Williams, Douglas and Kirkpatrick, the First Lady was joined by Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, TV fitness guru Bob Harper, Bo Jackson, US Olympians Allyson Felix, and Paul Rodriguez, among other sports heroes, and NIKE, Inc. President & CEO Mark Parker, as she unveiled the project.  (Above, Dawes and Douglas at the event)

Before doing some of her signature dance moves onstage with Harper--and special musical guest Jordin Sparks--Mrs. Obama gave the kids a pep talk, urging them to make the "right choices" to become high achievers, and describing how sports helped change her life. 

"For me, playing sports taught me how to be part of a team, taught me how to be aggressive, how to compete and win--which were important lessons for a young girl, especially back then," Mrs. Obama said.  "So for me and my brother and for so many other young people, being active was important--not just for our health, but for our success in school and in life."

"It's important each of you realize that you, and you alone, have the power to choose the life you want," Mrs. Obama said. "Whether you spend your day watching TV or you pick up your books & finish your homework...that's your choice. Whether you fill your bodies with chips and candy or fruits and vegetables, that's on you."

"Whether you sit around playing video games or get up and move...these are choices that determine what you can achieve."

The project details ...
NIKE's $50 million will be provided over the next five years to help create programs to keep children active before, during, and after school, and to build community support for school-based physical activity, the White House said.  Other organizations have pledged a combined $20 million toward the project over the next five years. ChildObesity180 will provide $1 million worth of "Acceleration Grants" to at least 1,000 school physical-activity "champions" in 2013.  The organization has also committed up to $3 million for the growth and expansion of quality school-based physical-activity programs over the next three years.

The GENYOUth Foundation will dedicate $9 million over the next 5 years to help at least 5,000 schools implement quality physical activity programs through Fuel Up to Play 60 grants. Through these direct grants, GENYOUth will encourage schools to complete the Let’s Move! Active Schools program and empower students of all ages to be leaders for physical activity.

The development and implementation of Let's Move! Active Schools will be primarily guided by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (Dawes is co-chair, with Drew Brees); the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD); and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  

The President's Council will focus on the promotion and scaling up of the new Presidential Youth Fitness Program, announced last September.  The General Mills Foundation is dedicating $10 million over the next five years to help schools use the program.

AAHPERD has pledged to train at least 20,000 school physical-activity "champions" over the next five years. 

In partnership with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National PTA, Kaiser Permanente will be launching “Fire Up Your Feet,” a program to helps teachers, parents, and administrators get students moving before, during, and after the school day. The program will also help schools conduct healthy fundraisers that promote walking, biking and other types of physical activity. Over the next three years, Kaiser Permanente will award $1.76 million to make this program available to every elementary and middle school in the country, and to provide an opportunity to compete for challenge awards to 11,000 elementary and middle schools in communities served by Kaiser Permanente. 

The Department of Education will realign its $80 million Carol M. White Physical Education Program to prioritize schools most in need, and will encourage schools to design proposals designed around "evidence-based best practices," said Secretary Duncan.

"Good health is not an add-on to a good education," Duncan said in a statement. "Our children need to be healthy to be prepared to learn, and we know active students are better able to engage in the classroom and excel academically. We need more of our schools creating environments that promote physical activity and play and encourage our students to get moving." 

The partnerships were coordinated by Partnership for a Healthier America, the foundation created to support the Let's Move! campaign, which oversees all private sector commitments to the campaign.

Sports Illustrated will shortly feature the project as a cover story; the photo at the top of this post was taken as Mrs. Obama did the cover shoot at McCormick Place.

The new project joins a series of other Let's Move! components dedicated to specific initiatives, including Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, for mayors and community leaders; Let's Move! Indian Country, for Native Americans; Chefs Move to Schools, for professional chefs; Let's Move Museums and Gardens, for educational and historic institutions, Let's Move! in The Clinic for medical professionals; Let's Move! Salad Bars to Schools; and Let's Move! Faith and Communities, for religious and community groups.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama kicked off her anniversary tour in Clinton, Mississippi, with a visit to Eastside/Northside Elementary Schools, where she hailed the state for its progress with child obesity initiatives, and hosted a school lunch cooking competition, joined by celebrity chef Rachael Ray. She spent the night in Chicago.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Obama made another major announcement for the third anniversary, unveiling the MyPlate Recipe Partnership.  Five media giants and are flagging recipes on 18 popular cooking websites that meet federal dietary guidelines.

On Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Obama continues her tour with a visit to a Walmart in Springfield, Ohio, her last stop before heading back to Washington.  Next week, on March 8, Mrs. Obama will give the keynote address at Partnership for a Healthier America's second annual child obesity summit in Washington, DC.

*The transcript of the First Lady's remarks.

CLICK HERE for all posts about the third anniversary tour.

*Top photo by @LetsMove; Dawes and Douglas photo by tweeted by Gabby Douglas, @GabbyDoug2012