and how you can win a chance to visit the White House too – details down below.
On March 15th, 2016 I had the privilege to attend an event held a White House with our First Lady, Michelle Obama along with other 150 blogger and social media influencers. The event was a conversation about our the health of our nation’s kids – a topic I’m very passionate about.
When I received the invitation I was really excited. It’s not every day that you get invited to the White House on “official business” and the fact that it was regarding a matter that’s very important to me was the icing on the cake. After a few minutes of total excitement I realized I might not be able to go. I have a 6 month exclusively breastfed baby that doesn’t take a bottle and I couldn’t just leave her that long without milk nor have her figure out how to take a bottle that day. I thought it was a long shot but I asked if I could bring her with me and to my surprised the White House agreed. Not only was I able to bring my baby and nurse her during the event, they even had a nursing room available if I needed it. I also learned that there are many nursing mothers and mothers of small children in the current White House. I loved learning how breastfeeding friendly and supportive it’s the White House administration. This was definitively one of the highlights of the visit!
Before the event we were allowed to walk around and see some of the rooms in the White House. I was able to snap some pictures while I was taking it all in and was also able to talk with some other bloggers and some White House staff. I loved how friendly everyone was!
The event was about the First Lady’s program, Let’s Move!. I have to be honest, I have heard about the program before and knew a little about it but that day it really opened my eyes to the great resources this program has to provide a better future for our kids. Currently 1 in 3 kids are obese, our country spends $350 billion a year in obesity. I am shocked! I live in a city where being healthy is a priority of many so I didn’t realize the nationwide numbers were this bad. We have to change this and we, as parents, have the power to do it.
The Let’s Move! initiative was started by the First Lady in 2010. The purpose is to show our kids how to live a healthier lifestyle, give parents helpful information on healthier living, create environments that support a healthier lifestyle, provide healthier meals in schools, promote children to be more psychically active and make sure all families have access to healthy yet affordable foods. Accomplishing this is no small task but it is not impossible and with the help of this program, school officials and parents we can change this future generation.
Some accomplishments from the Let’s Move! program are:
- 1 in 4 Americans live in a Let’s Move! city, town or county. This means kids can walk to schools on new sidewalks, enjoy summer meals programs or join local athletic league amongst other things.
- More than 30 million kids are eating healthier meals at school.
- 2 million kids now have a Let’s Move! salad bar in their school.
- Over t10 million kids attend to Let’s Move! schools where they strive to get 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
- 1.6 million kids are attending healthier daycare centers.
- Thousands of restaurants chains have created healthier kids’ menus.
- Food and beverage companies have cut 6.4 trillion calories from their products.
During my visit I learned about several programs that work in alignment with the goals of Let’s Move! to offer solutions and assistance to schools, town and families to provide our kids with a healthier lifestyle. You can find detailed information of these programs in this post. I loved learning how committed everyone is to raising a generation of healthier kids. I loved that our government cares about this very issue and that there are many smart ladies, moms, like you and me, behind all of this.
Towards the end of the visit we got to see Michelle Obama speak. I have to admit, I was impressed. She talks the part, looks the part, acts the parts and does it so effortlessly and elegantly. Her words really touched me because before being the First Lady, she is a mom – a mom that is worried about her kids health.
Her touching speech started with her thanking us for being there, told us why we were and why she started the Let’s Move! initiative:
“Now, I also want to thank all of you for joining us today at the White House. And thank you for the work that you all are doing to inform and empower parents around so many important issues –- everything from breastfeeding, to child nutrition, to getting kids to be more physically active. You all are taking on some of the biggest challenges that parents are facing when it comes to their kids’ well-being. And that’s really why we invited you here today to talk more about Let’s Move! Because no one plays a bigger, more important role in our kids’ health than we do as parents. In fact, I’m not sure if many of you know the history of my involvement in childhood obesity and Let’s Move!, but I came to this issue really as a mom.”
Then what she went on to say really struck a chord because this is the reality that many moms face:
“Believe it or not, we haven’t always lived here in the White House. Although sometimes it feels that way. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was a busy working mom with a job as an associate dean and eventually as vice president at the University of Chicago hospitals. And life back then was a constant juggling act for our family. Barack was traveling all the time –- he was running for some office at some point in time. He was going back and forth to Washington. And at the time, the girls were little, and they had those little-kid schedules, boy, filled with soccer practice and birthday parties, playdates and dance classes.
We were always rushing, always pressed for time. And as a result, meal times were all about whatever was quick and easy -– the drive-thru, the microwave, takeout –- any convenience food you could think of, we did it. And this went on for quite a while, but one day, I got a wakeup call.”
After her wake up call she started making some small changes in her family. I believe when it comes to making a big change like this one, it is always better to start with baby steps. She incorporated healthier snacks, more vegetables and fruits in their diets, desserts went from daily to weekly, amongst other things.
She reminded all of us of how powerful we, as parents, can be in providing our kids a healthier lifestyle but also in demanding from companies better and healthier options.
“And if we want to keep seeing better food options for our families, then we need to keep raising our voices and convincing more parents to join us in voting with their wallets. We as parents need to be leading this conversation about kids’ health in this country. So when naysayers claim that we just can’t afford to serve our kids healthy food, it’s up to us as parents to push back and say, “We can’t afford not to give our kids nutritious food.” Because when we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars treating obesity-related diseases, we simply don’t have the luxury to ignore this issue.”
She is right. It is easier to find organic foods and healthier meals for our kids than it was before because us parents are demanding for these options with our voices and our wallets. No one will ever care about our kids as much as we do, but there are so many of us, that together we can accomplish so much more.
All the attendees were so excited during the event that #LetsMove started trending on twitter that day. It was truly an honor to be there with so many bright and talented people – it felt almost surreal.
Our visit ended with a cooking demonstration from the White House Executive Chief, Cris Comerfod. He prepared a delicious ‘Must Have Tuscan Kale Salad to Go’. We also took a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden. The First Lady planted this garden back in 2009 and it supplies meals for the First Lady’s family as well as White House guests. Nearly 500 pounds of food from that garden has been shared with Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization that provides healthy meals for the homeless. And in 2014 a pollinator garden was planted right next to the garden to support bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators. You can find pictures in their instagram account and some of mine down below.
Want to win a chance to attend to the White House for the Kids’ State Dinner?
Watch this video to learn how.
Watch the First Lady’s entire speech during this event:
Want to learn more about Let’s Move!?