Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move fitness initiative, the rallying cry to end obesity in children in this generation, is rooted in her own childhood, she says. The current emphasis in discussion of the initiative has been on the nutrition element, but in the coming weeks, the fitness element will be unveiled.
“If kids are naturally active, they shouldn’t have to worry about what they eat. That’s how it was when we were growing up. Nobody talked to you about nutrition. You ate your vegetables. You ate what was on your plate. And you went outside and played. There wasn’t a need for structured activity,” she says in an interview from her office. “The physical education piece is about exploring that. In our nation, what happened? What have been the cultural trends that have led us away from that regular exercise and activity that kids used to get?”
I know from my own personal experience that Mrs. Obama is exactly right. As a child, I was served vegetables and fruits, we ate out very sporadically and fast food was a rare treat. After meals, I played outside. There was no television time, no computer, and definitely no indoor gaming system. I walked to friend’s houses, we rode bikes and roller skated together, and we played tag in the back yard long after the sun went down. More moms were home to keep an eye on kids.
In today’s time, many parents are working, and with the explosion of technology, kids often choose to play on the Wii or chat on Facebook rather than live actively. That’s why programs such as Fun, Fly & Fit, a project launched this year by the United Way of the National Capital Area, are so important.
Fun, Fit & Fly is a charter program that brings mobile gym classes into schools, churches and community centers. The free six-week program brings instructors and equipment to areas that might lack these essentials. By educating children with nutrition information, and stressing the importance of play, it dovetails with Mrs. Obama’s initiative. In addition, celebrity trainer Mark Jenkins is the program spokesman and speaks to the families on topics close to their interest; namely, money and success. He uses examples like Mary J. Blige to illustrate the need for fitness with the bottom line: Obese people make less money.
So get your kids out there, get them active, and move with them. Help them see that fitness is fun, not work, and vital to their health and future.