Seriously though, that was the important part of the day. Mrs. Obama was hosted an event for children from six Washington, D.C. area schools, the We CAN! Program, and their parents. The afternoon featured an address from Mrs. Obama, healthy cooking demonstrations, nutrition stations, and physical activities. Personally, I think the attention she is bringing to healthy living is extremely admirable and I love that someone in the White House is taking such an active position so quickly. Her efforts go hand in hand with the work her husband is doing with Health Care Reform, except on the ground floor and helping people now. I love that she started a White House vegetable garden that produces food used in the W.H. kitchen. I love that she, a former hospital administrator, is out there meeting with people, with kids, parents, health professionals, bringing awareness to the fact that we need to do something about our health and fitness levels.
In her address to those at the event, she spoke about the dire state of obesity among children in this nation. 1 in 3 children in the US are overweight or obese, and apparently (I hadn’t heard this before) medical experts are now predicting that life expectancy for the next generation is going to decrease for the first time. That’s crazy! She spoke about the reality that we need to teach children how to eat and exercise when they’re young so they know how to live a healthy life when they’re older. We need to set the example and even though many of us are working long hours, families are busy running around, and there is just a lot to do, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the younger generations.
Even though my husband (who I’ll call Woody from now on) and I do not have kids, but we are always thinking about how important it is to be a good example for little ones. We love seeing families out for a bike ride in the park, or shopping at the Green Market.
Another story that has been popular in the news has been school lunches and the amount of time allotted for physical activity every day. When we were young, you had recess after lunch, a morning or afternoon recess, and gym class 2-3 times a week. Until you got to middle school and then you had gym every day. Now, schools are dealing with huge budget cuts and increasing pressure to achieve high standardized test scores, so music classes and Phys Ed are often first on the chopping block. We also need to make sure there are community events for kids to take part in and safe places for them to play. As a society, we need to make healthy food options and physical activity a priority for our kids or they are going to be dealing with Type 2 Diabetes while trying to study for final exams as college students.
Two Dept of Agriculture programs that have become important to Mrs. Obama are The Healthier U.S. School Challenge which challenges schools to commit to providing healthy foods and time for physical activity for students every day, and the Child Nutrition Program which provides healthy meals and snacks to children. With more than 30 million children relying on this Child Nutrition Program as their primary source of nutrition for the day, this is an extremely important initiative.
I look forward to seeing what else Mrs. Obama has in store for our health and wellness. I hope that she continues to bring awareness and progress on this issue over the next four (or 8!) years.
On another note, there is a lot of stuff going on this weekend!
In NYC there is the Central Park Pumpkin Festival on Saturday (noon – 5pm). Right now the forecast is for rain, but I hope it clears up for a bit so people can enjoy the pumpkin carving, a haunted house, the scarecrow competition, Green Market vendors, and more. Definitely check it out if you’re in town. If you’re not, look to see what might be going on in your area. A local orchard may be having Halloween or other fall festivities!
Sunday is the Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off 5M race in Central Park. I’m super excited to run in this fun, quick race that shares a finish line with the NYC Marathon! It’s a great way to get pumped for next weekend. My running buddy/co-worker, Gracela, is also running so we’ve made plans to meet up afterwards and enjoy brunch at The Boathouse! I can’t wait.
Sunday is also the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. I wish all the runners tons of luck and hope they have a great time! I especially want to wish April a great run and can’t wait to hear about her experience!