WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation during the opening ceremonies of this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
The first lady announced her plans at American University today. Joined by Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the two celebrated the 2012 games by hosting a mini-Olympics-styled event for D.C.-area school children. The activities were billed as part of Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, with Olympians and Paralympians leading the children in relay races, basketball challenges, and other games.
Obama said she hoped the premier international sporting event would inspire more young people to live active lifestyles.
“You don’t have to be a gold medal winner or the best athlete at your school to take part,” Obama said. “You don’t even have to play an organized sport. You can dance in the living room, ride your bike around the neighborhood, or go for a walk with your friends.”
She then asked the roughly 60 children watching her to be “ambassadors” in their communities for good nutrition and exercise.
The event was emceed by three-time Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, who serves on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. Dawes said her work on the board was a way to give back to the country that supported her through the games.
Let’s Move has become one of Obama’s signature causes during her time in the White House, promoting healthy eating and physical exercise among American youths. The administration says the program has encouraged 1,500 schools to adopt more nutritious cafeteria menus and led to the commitment from several major national food distributors and restaurants to cut calories in their products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 17 percent of children are obese.
Leading U.S. Olympic delegations are a modern trend in first ladies: Laura Bush oversaw the opening ceremonies for the 2006 winter games in Torino, Italy, and Hillary Clinton did the same for the 1994 winter games in Norway.