Articles tagged with Michelle Obama

First Lady announces new Active Schools grants for school boards

First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new program to help school officials promote physical fitness in youth as part of her ongoing “Let’s Move” campaign.

The White House hosted a conference call with school board members and administrators on March 19 to introduce a new program, “Let’s Move: Active Schools,” funded by corporate sponsors, to guide local school districts to encourage physical activity. Up to 1,000 school districts will be awarded $1,000 grants to help kick-start their programs.

In addition to the grants, the program offers a free professional development program to show teachers how to integrate physical activities each day. It also gives technical assistance through calls and in-person visits, online resources such as curricula and toolkits, and communications tools. The National School Boards Association’s advocacy staff participated in on the call and noted that the program is voluntary for school boards.

“We know you are dealing with competing demands, and it feels like it is getting harder to find the time and money to keep kids active,” Obama said during the conference call. “This will give the tools and support to bring back physical activity in schools.”

Jill Wynns, a member of the San Francisco Unified Board of Education, spoke on the call about her school district’s investments in student wellness. The initiative began 10 years ago as a means to curb childhood obesity and began with a partnership with the city’s Board of Supervisors.  From there, the district pulled together a Food and Fitness Advisory Committee made up of community members and city employees who worked to pass an initiative to fund an array of programs that encouraged physical activity.

“We found that it is not enough to tell teachers to do more physical activity. They need curriculum, professional development aligned with the PE standards and integrated into their instructional calendar,” said Wynns. “These efforts represent our local, community-initiated commitment to insuring the health of our students as well as a model for coordinating the resources of the community.”

School board member Mark B. Miller of the Centennial school district in Pennsylvania asked the First Lady’s advisor, Sam Kass, how the program could help school districts overcome obstacles such as space limitation and contractual agreements with staff.

Kass suggested a school district create a small wellness team that could look for ways to implement the plan, using the Active Schools resources. One of the most important aspects of the program is to find a champion within the school district who can spearhead the program, he added.

For more information, visit the program’s website:



Joetta Sack-Min|March 21st, 2013|Categories: School Boards, Announcements, Obesity, Nutrition|Tags: , , |

In surprising alliance, Walmart join’s First Lady’s childhood obesity campaign

0519-0906-1808-5518_michelle_obama_in_the_white_house_vegetable_with_kids_from_bancroft_elementary_school_sWhy don’t I shop at Wal-Mart? Oh, let me count the ways—the giant corporate retailer’s destruction of small-town businesses that can’t compete, it’s tendency to build mass supercenters on the fringes of town, its bullying of manufacturers to lower the prices and thus quality of their products, the claims of discrimination, the claims of denying health insurance, the reopening of a store on Black Friday just hours after an employee had been trampled to death a couple years ago. I guess I could just say, their relentless pursuit of profit at any cost to society.

So I’m quite skeptical of their new campaign that says they’re going green, and giving health insurance and valuable career pathways to employees.

And I was quite surprised to hear last week that First Lady Michelle Obama was endorsing Wal-Mart’s new plan to require its suppliers to create healthier foods, with less sodium, fat, and sugar on its house-brand products, and lower the prices of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthier foods. And it’s building stores in places where poor residents do not have access to grocery stores or fresh foods.

Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest grocery retailer, and analysts say this position will have a major ripple through the food manufacturing community. According to USA Today, Mrs. Obama said the plan has “the potential to transform the marketplace and help Americans put healthier foods on their tables every single day.”

“We are really gaining some momentum on this issue, we’re beginning to see things move,” she said at an event in impoverished Southeast Washington, D.C., where Wal-Mart plans to open news stores.

While I’m sure Wal-Mart’s ultimate goal is to make a profit from this, it could bring some positive changes that could eventually help schools as they comply with the new Child Nutrition Act requirements (for more on the recently released regulations, read this School Board News Today story) In other words if you’ve got the power to be a bully, at least use it to do some good.

Now, about the environment…

Joetta Sack-Min, Associate Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 24th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Wellness, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , |

Playtime, a crucial key to fighting childhood obesity

1453-1257051464tbZXA cowbell — that’s what my mother used to call us to dinner after an afternoon (and, sometimes, early evening) of play.  Bent, rusted, big, and loud, it rang from the back stoop, beckoning my brothers and me from the backyard or from an even more wild and wonderful place behind our house: a place we called,  simply, “The Lot.”

The Lot was a weedy…..well, a weedy mess, really. It was the drain field for the subdivision behind us. And I’m sure it was filled with ticks and chiggers and poison ivy and snakes. And, of course, we loved it. We played baseball there in the summer, and when it rained a great deal, as it tended to do sometimes in St. Louis, The Lot would fill up with water and become a lake. (Probably a dirty, germ-laden, storm sewer of a lake, but a “lake,” nonetheless.)

I thought about “The Lot” today as I read a news release from the Alliance for Children on the importance of free play — both at home and at school — and its central role in fighting a childhood obesity epidemic that has become a cause célèbre for Michelle Obama and many advocacy groups, including NSBA.

“We’re delighted that Michelle Obama has taken up this issue as her major focus as First Lady,” said Joan Almon, the Alliance’s executive director. “Efforts to reverse the obesity epidemic have until now focused almost entirely on nutrition and physical activity with disappointing results. The missing ingredient in this recipe is play — good, old-fashioned, child-initiated play, the kind that used to keep children moving and active for hours each day.”

Naomi Dillon|February 16th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Wellness, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |
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