Lets Move! Launch Anniversary Speech To Parents

Uploaded by letsmove on 09.02.2011

(cheers and applause)
Mrs. Obama: Wow.
(cheers and applause)
Thank you so much.
Good afternoon and thank you, thank you again.
I am thrilled to be here with all of you to celebrate the
one-year anniversary of Let's Move!
Everybody sit!
I want to begin by first thanking Pastor Andy Stanley for
that wonderful introduction and for his devoted leadership here
at North Point Community Church.
I also want to recognize Reverend Cynthia Hale,
from the Ray of Hope Christian Church, for --
(cheers and applause)
-- for her leadership and also for co-hosting today's celebration.
And thanks also to Georgia's wonderful First Lady,
Mrs. Sandra Deal, who came to see me --
I'm not sure if she's still here, but I want to thank her --
there she is.
Thank you so much.
As well as all the other elected officials and community leaders
throughout this area who came to join us here today -- thank you,
thank you all.
And of course, I want to thank all the musicians,
the singers -- I heard a little bit of --
this was nice event going on here --
(laughter and applause)
-- everyone who graced us with their talent this afternoon,
let's give them all a round of applause.
Thank you all, thank you so much.
Now, we're not just here today to celebrate the first
anniversary of a campaign to solve the problem of childhood
obesity in a generation.
We're here to celebrate a new conversation in this country
about the health and well-being of our children.
It's a conversation about what our kids eat, how they move,
about how they feel, and, more importantly,
how they feel about themselves.
And it's about what that all means,
not just for their physical and emotional health,
but for their success in school and in life.
And over this past year, we have seen the first signs of a
fundamental shift in how we live and how we eat.
We've seen changes at every level of our society --
from classrooms, to boardrooms, and yes,
to the halls of Congress.
And there's a reason I wanted to hold this celebration here at
North Point Community Church.
Yes, there's a reason I wanted to talk with all of you --
parents from all different backgrounds with kids of all
different ages.
And that's because these changes are happening for one simple
reason: because you asked for them.
You see, that's really what Let's Move! is all about.
That's how this all got started --
by listening to parents like all of you.
By working to meet your needs, by working to fulfill your hopes
and dreams for your kids.
You see, you asked for more fresh,
nutritious food in your communities.
So that's why we're working to bring more grocery stores into
underserved areas.
You wanted healthier, more affordable --
-- options on those grocery store shelves.
So food manufacturers have made a "Healthy Weight Commitment,"
pledging to cut 1.5 trillion calories a year from their products.
And Walmart has promised to sell products with less sugar,
salt and trans-fat -- and to reduce the prices on healthy
items like fresh fruits and vegetables.
(cheers and applause)
You asked for more information about the food you buy for your kids.
And today, we're seeing better, clearer labels already on
beverage cans and many other products in the grocery stores.
You asked for better food in your kids' schools --
the kind of balanced meals that you're trying to provide for
your kids at home.
So we're putting salad bars in 6,000 schools across the country.
Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Now, this is historic legislation that will provide
healthier school meals to millions of our American children.
And more than 2,000 professional chefs have signed up to help
local schools develop healthier menus.
You asked for better role models for your kids.
So we recruited professional athletes from all over the place
to encourage kids to stay active.
You asked for healthier communities that can sustain
healthy families.
So through Let's Move Cities and Towns --
this is an initiative where 500 mayors have committed to
tackling obesity in their community.
They're building bike paths and planting gardens,
they're starting youth sports leagues and so much more.
You asked for practical, affordable,
real-life advice to keep your kids healthy.
So we launched the public service campaigns that you've
seen and our website -- letsmove.gov --
with helpful tips on exercise and nutrition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is now urging doctors
not just to screen our kids for obesity,
but to actually write prescriptions for exercise and
healthy eating.
And --
(cheers and applause)
-- under the Affordable Care Act --
which is the health care law that Congress passed last year
-- these screenings will be fully covered by insurance so
you won't have to pay anything out of pocket.
(cheers and applause)
And guess what?
All of this happened in just one year!
Just one year!
(cheers and applause)
So, if we can do all of this in the first year, well, look,
just imagine what we will achieve next year,
and the year after that.
Just imagine.
So we're making real progress here.
We're gaining momentum.
But as far as we've come, when nearly one in three kids in this
country is still overweight and obese then we still have a long
way to go.
And for parents like all of us, this isn't just a public health threat.
This is not just some abstract issue that we read about in the paper.
This is personal.
You know, this stuff is emotional.
This is the kind of thing that keeps us lying awake at night.
Because all of us desperately want to keep our kids healthy.
But we often just don't know how.
Unfortunately, kids don't come with instruction manuals --
wish they did.
Sasha needs a big one.
And while we get plenty of advice to make sure our kids eat
well and stay active, what does that really mean?
How do we actually do that?
Where do we find the time?
More importantly, where do we find the money?
You see, the irony is that with all of our advances in
technology, with all of the experts and advice-givers out
there, it has actually become harder, not easier,
to raise healthy kids in this country.
I mean, think about it for a minute.
Think about back when all of us old folks were growing up --
I don't know how many kids are here --
but folks who are my age and older.
Remember back then?
Our TVs had only a few channels.
And when those Saturday morning cartoons were finished,
TV was done.
That was it for the day.
Once American Bandstand, Soul Train was over,
you headed outside to play and you'd better not come home until dinner.
Back then, we ate meals around the table as a family and that
was pretty much the only time you ate, was at mealtime.
I didn't know a single child in my neighborhood who was allowed
to eat what they wanted, whenever they wanted.
If you wanted a snack, you had to ask permission and whatever
you got was limited.
In those days, fast food was a special treat; yeah.
My brother and I, we got pizza a few times a year --
when our report cards came out.
That was the treat for getting good grades.
No one in my family believed in eating out --
especially not my grandmother.
I will never forget the time when my brother and I begged her
to get takeout burgers and fries for lunch --
remember this clearly.
And we were shocked when she finally agreed.
And as we sat, excitedly waiting for our burgers -- and I --
this is true -- my grandmother opened up a can of peas.
And, to our horror, promptly served up two scoops.
See, 'cause my grandma failed to grasp one of the key principles
of takeout for kids -- that was, no vegetables, Grandma!
But fast food or not, my grandma believed in feeding her family a
balanced meal at every meal.
Back then, our society was structured so that healthy
eating and exercise were natural parts of kids' lives.
I mean, we didn't have to think about it --
that was just the way it was.
But today, it's the exact opposite.
Instead of just a few hours of cartoons on weekends,
there are entire networks devoted to children's programming.
Instead of kickball and jump rope, kids sit motionless,
unblinking, for hours -- clicking and typing and texting away.
Fresh fruits and vegetables have gotten more expensive,
while convenience foods have gotten cheaper.
And really, let's be honest -- I mean, sometimes,
as parents today, we are just plain tired.
Can I get an amen?
Audience: Amen.
Mrs. Obama: We are working longer hours to make ends meet.
We are under more pressure and stress.
We get home after a long day at work and the last thing on earth
we want to do is fight with our kids about turning off the TV,
or have that endless negotiation about what they will eat for dinner.
And trust me, I've been there.
I mean, it wasn't so long ago that I was a working mom myself.
And I know that sometimes, as much as we hate to admit it,
it's just easier to put the kids in front of the TV for just a
few hours so we can get a few things done --
paying the bills, put a load of laundry in, or, shoot --
just have a little peace and quiet.
Sometimes, it's just easier to say yes to that extra snack or
dessert, because frankly, it's exhausting to keep saying no.
It's exhausting to plead our kids to eat just one more bite
of vegetables.
It's exhausting to put all that effort into making a homecooked
meal when you know all they really want to do is go through
the drive-thru.
The truth is that today, we have more choices than ever before
about how we live and eat, but so many of those choices simply
aren't good for our kids.
So, little by little -- and sometimes without us even
noticing -- those choices have started to add up.
And the consequences go far beyond our kids' health.
For example, believe it or not, right now, today,
nearly 27% of 17- to 24-year-olds are too overweight to serve in
our military.
I recently visited Fort Jackson down in South Carolina,
it's the largest facility in the country for training Army recruits.
And the general there told me that the recruits that they're
seeing today are the kids who were born back when public
schools across the country started cutting physical
education and sports.
So what he's seeing is that after years of inactivity and
poor nutrition, these recruits are overweight,
they're out of shape, and they're far more likely to
injure themselves in basic training.
And as a result, the Army is spending millions of dollars a
year in medical and dental costs just to get trainees
So it is now clear that the choices we've made aren't just
endangering our kids' future -- they're endangering our
country's future as well.
Now, of course, parents are not the only ones who influence a child's life.
We know that kids are like little sponges --
they soak up everything, regardless of where it comes from.
They want the gadget they saw at the friend's house,
the sugary snack they see on TV.
So we know that if we truly want to solve this issue of childhood
obesity, parents cannot shoulder this burden alone,
nor should we have to.
But at the same time, we know that ultimately,
we are the ones responsible for what our kids eat.
We're responsible for how much time they spend on the couch
with that remote control.
And while we may not always feel like it,
when it comes to our kids' health and well-being,
we're the ones in charge.
And every day, I hear from moms and dads across the country who
are stepping up -- they're taking control,
they're finding creative solutions that work for their families.
They're walking places instead of driving.
Like my grandma, they're making sure there's a vegetable on the
plate, no matter what's for dinner.
They're changing their own habits because they know that
they can't sit on the couch eating french fries while
telling their kids to run around the block and eat broccoli.
And they're trying to make healthy eating fun.
Patti Howell is a mom from Los Angeles --
she shared an idea on the Let's Move! Facebook page.
She wrote that she and her daughters read the Nutrition
Facts Panels on the foods they buy.
And as she put it, and this is her quote: "It's a fun family
project that's a great conversation starter and gives
us a lot more to talk about."
But parents aren't just having an impact on their own families.
They're demanding more from their children's schools and communities.
Aaron Marks -- he's a father from Decatur, Georgia --
he wasn't happy when he found out that his four-year-old was
eating pizza for breakfast at school and donuts and cookies for snacks.
So he talked to the school administrators.
He joined the school's nutrition committee.
And he helped raise money to plant a garden at his son's school.
And as he put it: "You just can't take no for an answer.
You have to be tenacious."
So --
It's never easy.
But we also have to remember that we're never alone in this challenge.
So the next time that we are battling with our kids over
those vegetables, or they refuse to join us for the walk in the
park, the next time we struggle to change our schools or our
communities, we just need to remind ourselves that parents
everywhere are going through exactly the same thing.
We have to remember that we're all in this together.
So we need to help each other.
We need to support each other.
We need to share good ideas.
We need to cheer each other on in this challenge.
We need to get more parents involved in this cause,
because that's really how Let's Move! works.
I mean, the truth is that executives at Walmart didn't
wake up one morning and decide to promote healthier products
just for fun.
Folks in Congress didn't write the most sweeping child
nutrition legislation in decades because they had extra time on their hands.
They did this because folks like us stood up and asked for these changes.
They did it because we started reading those labels;
we started buying the healthier products.
So if there's one message that I want to send to parents today,
it's this: we have a voice.
I mean, we have a voice.
And when we come together and use that voice,
we can change things.
We can change the way companies do business.
We can change the way Congress makes laws.
We can transform our schools and our neighborhoods and our cities.
And today, I want to urge everyone just to keep using that voice.
Keep standing up.
Keep demanding something better for our kids.
And not just as parents.
And this is an important point, because we're not just moms and dads.
We're Little League Coaches and Girl Scout leaders.
We're parishioners, we're PTA members.
We're educators and small business owners.
And we need to bring our perspective as parents to every
single one of those roles.
We need to change things not just from the outside,
but from the inside as well.
We need to ask ourselves, "What can I do, through my workplace,
my place of worship, my organization,
to help kids in my community lead healthier lives?"
That might be something as simple as getting your office to
sponsor a local youth sports league.
Maybe your club or community group can adopt a local playground.
How about getting your church or your place of worship involved, right?
That's what we're doing through Let's Move Faith and Communities
-- this is an initiative where we're supporting faith leaders
who want to build healthier congregations.
So why not start an exercise ministry where folks inspire
each other to get active?
Or start a cooking class that teaches families to prepare
healthier meals?
The one thing we know is the impact these efforts really have
on our kids.
They're watching us.
Because just as our kids soak up all that bad stuff --
we all know -- the advertisements,
the peer pressure -- we know they soak up the good stuff as well.
And I see it every year when we harvest our White House garden
and I actually watch kids getting excited about kale.
They do.
I watch them clamor to try vegetables that they've never
heard of simply because they planted those vegetables themselves.
I see it in the children I meet as I travel around the country
-- I met some of those kids today, right here.
I met a little boy in November in Newark,
and his teacher did a unit on healthy eating.
And that afternoon, he told me after that,
he went straight home and he insisted that his mother bake,
rather than fry, the fish that she was cooking.
A little boy.
He's going to make a change!
I see it in the letters that I get from young people who
proudly tell me what they're doing to eat better and stay active.
One little girl told me that after watching a public service
announcement on Let's Move! on TV,
she and her friend put down the junk food and decided to go for
a bike ride instead.
See, now that's something!
See, when our kids get engaged like that,
you don't let that go.
When they start taking the initiative,
and they start changing their habits, you don't let that go.
Because that won't just affect their generation.
Another mom, Shemeka Hamlin-Palmer, from Jackson,
Mississippi, I think she put it best.
She said, "I want my son to have a long and healthy life...
therefore, I need to teach him healthy ways of living...
and he'll be able to teach his kids the same thing."
So make no mistake about it, we're not just doing this for
our kids today; we're doing this for our grandchildren and for
their children.
But truly, that's what we've always done in this country.
See, that's who we are -- we're the folks who struggle and
sacrifice to leave something better for our kids.
We've worked to give our kids opportunities that we have never
dreamed of for ourselves; that's what we do in America.
And ultimately, that's what we're aiming to do with Let's Move!
That's what this momentum we're seeing across the country is
really about -- folks stepping up for our kids.
And today, one year later, Let's Move! is far more than just a campaign.
It's so much more than just a slogan.
This is a nationwide movement; it's a movement to give our kids
everything they need -- all the energy, all the strength,
and the opportunities they need to fulfill every last bit of
their potential that we know they have and achieve every last
one of their dreams.
And as parents, we want nothing less for our kids.
But more importantly, as Americans,
we want nothing less for this country.
So let's keep working.
We need you all, parents.
We need you to keep moving.
We need you to keep doing everything you can to give our
kids the bright futures they deserve.
You all should be proud of this year.
You set this up, you made it happen.
I'm proud of you.
There's more work to do, but we can make this happen.
So thank you all so much, thank you for being here today,
and God bless you all.