Michelle Obama Volunteers to Prevent ‘Summer Learning Loss’

By Alex Pepper

Jun 8, 2010 4:45pm

From Sunlen Miller

Hoping to combat the "summer learning loss" First Lady Michelle Obama today launched the second annual United We Serve Summer Service Initiative.

“This is a nationwide effort calling on Americans to make service a part of their daily lives,” Mrs. Obama said from Kennedy Recreation Center in Washington, DC this afternoon, “We’re going to be asking individuals and community organizations, corporations, foundations and the  government to come together and devote their time and energy to helping our fellow Americans in need.”

Mrs. Obama, along with other volunteers, filled canvas bags with goodies designed to encourage kids to exercise, eat well, and to read – such as Frisbees, jump ropes, water bottles, healthy snacks, and books. 

“We want to do everything we can to help our kids stay active and healthy -– and to keep them learning –- all throughout the summer,” the first lady said.

The theme of this year’s service event – “United We Serve: Let's Read. Let's Move" – is especially applicable, the First Lady said, during the summer doldrums, when kids need to exercise not only their bodies but their minds.

“We also know that during the summer, when our kids take a break from school, too many of them experience what they call summer learning loss,” Mrs. Obama said. “And a lot of kids sometimes find that they forget some of the things that they learned throughout the school years, and as a result, if they stop learning through the summer, they can fall behind and then they’re struggling throughout the year.”

Organizers expect to fill about 3,000 bags which will be distributed by the Capital Area Food Bank. The service event was organized by the Corporation for National Service and five federal agencies, including the Department of Interior and Education. 150 volunteers – including 13 members of Congress participated.

“As our dear friend, Senator Kennedy, used to say, all we have to do is ask.  And he was talking about Americans when it comes to service — all we have to do is ask, and then provide the opportunity, because, as he said, most Americans are already willing to give.  They're willing to be a part.  They just need the opportunity.  So we’re giving folks that opportunity through this initiative.  We are asking.  We are asking in a very big way.”

FLOTUS Fashion Watch: Mrs. Obama wore a flowered collared shirt, with a sheer striped lavender long sleeve shirt overtop, paired with dark pants.

-Sunlen Miller

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