Michelle Obama concluded a three-day, four-state tour in Florida today promoting the anniversary of her signature “Let’s Move” initiative. Launched two years ago,the campaign has been a key aspect of her tenure as first lady and is designed to advance healthy eating and exercise in American children.
In a trip that has spanned Texas, Arkansas, Iowa, and the Sunshine State the first lady has barely paused. The tour has seen her participate in events with Bravo’s Top Chef and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders highlighting healthy school lunches in Texas. At Little Rock Air Force Base she announced efforts to improve nutrition in the military. And in Florida yesterday she participated in a town hall with WebMD.
But this afternoon the tour officially concluded with a stop at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World. With a company of Disney stars and professional athletes Mrs. Obama participated in tennis, soccer, and number of other game activities for the children present. She also demonstrated a new dance move. Called “the platypus walk,” the first lady danced, flapped her arms and twisted, inspired by the Disney TV show “Phineas and Ferb,” which features a platypus character.
Also in attendance was Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who did over 50 pushups in front of a crowd of roughly 1,400 youngsters and adults.
Disney is the parent company of ABC News and ESPN.
Earlier this morning the first lady visited the Northland Church in Longwood, Florida to speak to an assembly of religious congregations. Addressing a crowd of over 3,000 and consisting of 15 denominations, she implored religious organizations to take an active role in promoting a healthy living.
“We know that government doesn’t have all the answers,” Mrs. Obama told the stadium-style house of worship. “Every family and every community is different. Each of us needs to make the changes that fit with our budgets, our beliefs, and our tastes. ”
She gave credit to some churches for creating what she called “no-fry zones” in their communities and sponsoring walks. But she also called on food distributors and restaurant chains to take up a responsibility of adding more nutritious options to their menus. It is a theme she’s often repeated during the tour.
According to the Centers for Disease Control roughly a third of Americans are considered overweight. Roughly 17 percent of children are obese, a figure that has almost tripled since 1980.
The first lady also reminisced about how, as a child, domestic lifestyles seemed healthier. For her it was a time filled with walking to school, Saturday morning cartoons, and playing tag. Although her family dinners weren’t without drama.
“There was always a vegetable on the plate,” Mrs. Obama said, to laughter. “My mother never cared whether my brother and I liked what was on our plates. We either ate what was there, or we went to bed hungry. That was the bottom line. ”
She concluded the event by announcing the launch of a new project through the USDA: Churches and other organizations can submit videos to the administration demonstrating how they are promoting active lives for youth. The top entrants will be invited to a reception at the White House.
The Obama administration claims “Let’s Move” has encouraged 1,500 schools to adopt more nutritious cafeteria menus and led to a commitment from several major national food distributors and restaurants to cutting calories in their products.
With a busy political season ahead, Michelle Obama has tried to draw a distinction between her own initiatives and actively campaigning for her husband. The first lady says her work with childhood obesity and military families is something she wants to focus on before the general election takes over.
“It’s sort of like working before vacation — only it’s not a vacation,” she told reporters today. “It’s that same notion of ‘How much time do we have? What do I have to do?”
The first lady has already attended six political fundraisers this year, with tickets ranging from $100 to $10,000.