Amy De Los Santos:
Good afternoon. My name is Amy De Los Santos and
I just finished the sixth grade at Lincoln Middle School. (applause) I’m honored to be with the
First Lady at my school. Mrs. Obama has set a great
example for me and for kids all across the country to
eat right, exercise more, get off the coach
and get moving. It’s great to know that kids
like me and my friends are so important to Mrs. Obama
and the President. Now, it’s my honor to introduce
to all of you the First Lady, Michelle Obama. (applause) The First Lady:
Hi, everybody. Yay, we’re
here, we’re doing it! (applause) It’s so exciting. I am thrilled. I have been waiting for this
day for a long, long time, and it is finally here. And I want to thank you all for
being here and for hosting us. As you know, my other
partner, the President, was supposed to be here with
us, but he had some other stuff going on. He sends his regrets. He would — trust me,
he would rather be here. (laughter) But this is an important
issue, and we didn’t want to postpone it. So hopefully I will be a
satisfactory substitution. (applause) I want to start by first
thanking Amy for just being a fabulously amazing
middle-schooler and for her wonderful introduction. Thank you, Amy. Great job. (applause) And I have to thank our
co-chairs of the President’s Council — Dominique Dawes, who
has just been a terrific support to this White House
and to these issues. She’s just a fabulous woman and
just so eloquent and poised. We are just thrilled
to have her. And our other co-chair
Drew Brees, who, you know, what do you say
about Drew Brees, except we’re so lucky to
have him as a part of this. He regrets that he
couldn’t be here. But we are so grateful to
Dominique and to Drew, and also to the executive
director of the Council, Shellie Pfohl. Shellie, I know you’re out here. Everybody should know Shellie. She’s there in the fuchsia. (applause) To all the Council members who
have taken the time not just to participate on this Council
but to come here today, it’s going to mean so much to
kids across the country to see world-class athletes and chefs
and trainers and experts just coming together for the entire
issue of making sure that our kids are healthy. So I am personally grateful for
your willingness to be a part of this, and thank you
so much for your time. I also want to recognize our
mayor here in Washington, D.C., Mayor Fenty,
who just got here. There he is. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. (applause) This is an appropriate
event for him to be at, because he’s a jock. (laughter) Yeah, yeah. So he’s somebody who
lives the message. And we’re grateful for your
support and your role modeling of the issue. Thank you, sir. And we also have Congressman
John Sarbanes here as well. Congressman, there you are. (applause) Thank you so much for your
support on this issue. It is great to be
here at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus. (applause) This is a beautiful
facility, very impressive. You drive into a parking
lot, and it doesn’t look like a school. I’m impressed; it
looks very, very good. And I got a chance to meet
your outstanding principal — (applause) — Maria Tukeva. Where are you, Principal? (applause) And I understand she’s also
the founder of — yes, yes. Thank you for creating one
of the top high schools in the country right here
in Washington, D.C. (applause) Well done, well done. And of course, I want to thank
all the students from the Lincoln Multicultural Middle
School — where are my students? (applause) Thank you all for joining us. I sort of tried to get in my
gear — I’m going to try and do a few things with you. I got on flat shoes today. But I’m going to do my best. Today we’re here to talk about
an issue that is so close to my heart as First Lady,
but also as a mom. And it’s an issue that’s of
importance to all of us — eating right, staying active,
and giving our kids the bright future that they deserve. And right now, we can be
doing better by our kids, because one in three of our
children is either overweight or obese in this country. And doctors are seeing more
and more children with health problems related to obesity
— high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II
diabetes — and these used to be diseases that we
would only see in adults, but now they’re
becoming a regular part of a pediatrician’s practice. And every year, as a
result of these conditions, we’re spending billions
of dollars on treating obesity-related conditions, and
we can’t afford to keep going down this road. We can’t afford it
for our young people, and we can’t afford
it as a nation. That’s why, earlier this year;
we started this wonderful nationwide initiative that
we’ve called “Let’s Move.” (applause) Yay for “Let’s Move”. And it’s an initiative that has
been designed and worked on by so many partners all
across the country. People have been fabulous
about this issue. But our goal is to end the
epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation. We are making this a big, huge
generational goal — with the notion that kids born today are
going to have a different idea of what it means to be healthy,
so that they grow up at a healthy weight,
with good habits, that they can then teach the
generations that follow. But one key to getting this
done and solving this problem is passing a strong
child nutrition bill. And I can’t emphasize this
more — this bill controls the programs that provide
school lunches to kids all across the country. And what we do know is that
our kids are getting most of their activity, most of
their nutrition at school. So if we can do something to
improve the quality of food in our schools, we’re going to
go a long way to affecting the futures of our children. And right now, that bill is
making its way through Congress with what I’m proud to hear
is strong bipartisan support. This is an issue that everyone
is getting behind because it’s not about politics,
it’s about our kids. A majority of senators and House
members from both parties have publicly called for swift
passage of a strong proposal. So, once again, I urge Congress
to provide the resources that we’re going to need to support
these important programs that will be able to help change
our children’s futures and those after that. This is an important time. So we’re looking forward to the
Congress getting this done. But you all know back when we
were kids — and I’m talking to the grown folks here — being
healthy wasn’t that hard. It just wasn’t that hard. Parents, particularly
in the summer, could just open up their back
door, send the kids out, give them a little
breakfast and tell them, go away and don’t come
back until we’re ready to see you again. (laughter) And you might run in for a
second if you were a kid and grab a little lunch, right? But you weren’t watching the TV. You had to get up
and get back out. And you usually wouldn’t
even come home until dinner, and you wouldn’t even want
to come home for dinner, because you were having so
much fun running around. You had to be forced to
sit down and eat a meal. And the meals that we got were
generally pretty healthy, because they were usually
cooked at home with a whole lot of loving care and fresh
products and produce. Today we’ve got so many
distractions — we’ve got video games, we’ve got computers —
that are just keeping kids inside after school. The whole culture of
our society has changed. During the summer, a
lot of times this is what kids are doing. And some folks are living in
neighborhoods where they can’t go outside, it’s not safe
to open up that door and let your kids run forever. And we have some communities
that don’t have access to that fresh produce and
those fresh vegetables. We are dealing with millions of
people living in food deserts. And many parents are just
overworked — they’re juggling too much — and although
they want to do it, they just don’t have time
to cook a home-cooked meal every night. They’re lucky if it
happens once a week. So things have changed. It’s gotten a lot tougher, and
I think that’s why we’re seeing the outcomes in our
kids that we’re seeing. There’s a reason why
we’re here today. But “Let’s Move” is about
trying to help change all that. That’s really the goal. It’s not to place blame. It’s not to point fingers. It’s really to help parents in
communities and business leaders find a way out of this dilemma. But efforts to help kids stay
healthy and active actually go back much further than what
we’re trying to do here today. Way back in 1956 — this
is a little history lesson, students — Dwight Eisenhower
was worried that the lack of exercise was causing young
people in America to fall behind their peers in Europe
and around the world. And so he established the
President’s Council on Youth Fitness to get kids moving. This was back in 1956. Does anybody remember that? I don’t want to out anybody — (laughter) — on age, but I’m sure we have
some people who remember that. The Council’s original mission
was simple: to encourage young people to get enough exercise. And that is still a very
important component of what we need to do today. But today we know that being
healthy is about more than just being physically fit. It’s also about eating healthy
foods and really learning which foods to enjoy in moderation. That’s one of the reasons I
talk about burgers and fries, because a life without burgers
and fries is really depressing. (laughter) Audience Member:
And fried chicken. The First Lady:
And fried chicken. (laughter) And just fried. (laughter) But it’s about learning about
all the different ways to eat healthy and to strike those
balances and to be active — whether that means playing a
sport, which many kids do, but not every kid is an athlete
and they don’t have to be. Because you can get the exercise
you need from walking your dog vigorously, running
with your dog, doing some push-ups at
home, or just playing. You know, the work that
we’re talking about used to be called play. (laughter) And it’s about developing
healthy habits that kids will have for the
rest of their lives. Because the one thing we
know, why we start with kids, is kids learn. They’re not like us. They’re not stuck in time. You know, they learn
something, they take it on, and it lasts forever. So we’re talking about
developing lifetime skills that kids will then
teach to their kids. That’s why yesterday; the
President signed an Executive Order expanding the mission
of this historic Council and creating the new President’s
Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition —
all three components. (applause) So we’re just broadening
the scope of what we have to focus on. And this group, as
Dominique mentioned, will include fitness and
nutrition experts who’ve agreed to help raise awareness about
how we can make our kids and our schools and our
communities healthier. This Council, as I said, is
made up of everyone — chefs, doctors, health experts,
personal trainers. We’ve got our Olympic
gold medalists. We’ve got a NASCAR driver. We’ve got NBA all-stars,
tennis legends. We’ve got it all because
we know in the end, kids listen to these
heroes in so many ways. And those are just a few of the
25 men and women who will be donating their time and
expertise to this cause. It’s just more people coming
on and making “Let’s Move” a broader and stronger campaign. Together, they’re committed to
working with government and the private sector —
that’s businesses, schools and nonprofits — to
help kids everywhere learn about healthy eating and the
importance of being active each and every single day. And we’re broadening the mission
of the Council so that we can make a bigger difference —
focusing on what — not just what you do with your bodies,
but what you put in your bodies. We all know, if we’re
focused on our fitness, it is not enough just
to exercise — you have to focus on diet. I still struggle with that. At 46 years old, if I
want to lose some weight, I can work out as much as
I want to — right, Mayor? — but you got to have that
balance of food to really cut the fat. So we’re really excited
about this broader mission. Here — right here
in Columbia Heights, you’re already well
ahead of the game. That’s one of the reasons
why we wanted to come here, because we wanted to model — (applause) — what’s already working. Because that’s another
thing about “Let’s Move,” we don’t have to
recreate the wheel; we have to just find the models
that are already working and spread those across the country. And Columbia Heights is serving
as one of those models. I know that you’ve made the
President’s physical fitness test an important
part of PE class, just kids living
up to that test. You collect information on the
student’s weight and their heart rate and the progress
that they’re making throughout the year. And I also hear that
at the end of the year, the students with the most
improvement get to take part in a fitness challenge
with teachers and staff, which is huge. (applause) Because as we’ve been
talking with schools, what we’re finding consistently
is that when the teachers and the staff are involved, when
they’re sitting around at the lunch table and they’re
practicing the same habits that they’re trying
to instill in kids, it just makes kids want
to do it even more. So I commend you all on
what you’re doing here. That’s what the President’s
Council is all about. It’s about all of us pushing
ourselves to meet new challenges, even when
they’re difficult, because none of this is easy. It only gets easy
if you start young. That’s what — that’s the gift
that we can offer our children. If they start out with
these habits early on, it just makes life
easier for them. It’s about having fun — let’s
not forget that — because this isn’t all work and calorie
counting and all that. This is about having some fun
and getting more opportunity for kids to be active and to find a
way that connects with each of them, because not every kid is
going to connect to activities in the same way. So we’ve got to have a broad
base of opportunities for kids. So, again, I want to thank you
all here at Columbia Heights for setting such a wonderful
model, such a great example. I want you all to keep doing
what you’re doing and help spread your message to other
schools not just here in the District, but around the nation. You guys are a true model. Again, I want to thank our
Council members for their excitement and enthusiasm. And I think now is the time
that we actually are going to get moving. So we’re going to do some
activities with the kids. And as I said, I’m going to
try and hang with you all, but this bow might
get in the way. (laughter) But I want to thank
you all for being here. So let’s get moving. So thank you all so much. (applause)