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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First, Let's Move! Now, Let's Read!

First Lady Michelle Obama has added another dimension to her Let’s Move! campaign.

Let’s Read!

“Let’s read! Let’s move!”, said the First Lady today at the Kennedy Recreation Center where along with the First Lady, congressional members and their spouses helped prepare Healthy Lifestyle Kits that included snacks and nutritional information, jump ropes, Frisbees, reading books and work books, and other activity equipment for children of the greater Washington, D.C. area.

Mrs. Obama takes time out to chat with a young boy as she prepares to stuff a kit with a mini football. Photo/CD Brown.

With summer break just around the corner the First Lady is getting an early start on making sure D.C.’s kids continue to keep up their reading while on summer break.

“We also know that during the summer, when our kids take a break from school, too many of them experience what they call summer learning loss. And I know kids you don't like to hear this, but we think about this all the time -- will you retain anything that you learned during the year?”.

Among the congressional members helping at today’s event, Leslie Meek, the spouse of representative Kendrick Meek; Congressman John Lewis, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

 “This is what it’s really all about”, said Lee. “Elected officials are really public servants. So, any opportunity I get to provide this type of service to our community, I definitely will participate in.”

Congressman Brian Baird along with his four year-old son, William, were also on hand to help fill to the top the many empty cardboard boxes aligned at the back of the auditorium with bags of goodies.

William had already filled five duffle bags, with the help of the other participants, and said of the event, “It’s a lot of fun.”  He was off and running to start on bag number six after our brief chat with him.

The NFL Players Association also participated in the event to help promote the League’s Play 60 initiative, also designed to help fight childhood obesity.  We caught up with the NFLPA's Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith.

“All of our players believe in not only healthy bodies, but healthy minds. We have a firm commitment to helping kids just be better. Be betters students, better athletes", said Smith.

Adding,” This is a community that I grew up in. It’s symbolic of what our players do everyday. They are not only great players on the field, but they’re also good people in the community. So, to be able to reach out and touch and accomplish both of those things today, it meant a lot to the players for me to be here today. It’s a great thing for our communities nationwide.”

The Let’s Move! Let’s Read! event was launched today with the help of the Corporation for National and Community Service whose mission is to help young people expand opportunities to engage young people in summer reading and physical activities as well as provide access to healthy, affordable food.

On April 21, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act at an elementary school in Washington DC .

“And as our dear friend, Senator Kennedy, used to say, all we have to do is ask. And he was talking about Americans when it comes to service -- all we have to do is ask, and then provide the opportunity, because, as he said, most Americans are already willing to give. They're willing to be a part. They just need the opportunity. So we’re giving folks that opportunity through this initiative."

The Serve America Act reauthorizes and expands national service programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service by amending the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA).

“We’ll need help from folks all across the country to get this done. We’re going to need people to step up and volunteer to build and renovate playgrounds, and clear walking trails, and create community gardens, and organize book drives, and to take the time to serve as tutors and as mentors and to read to children of all ages”, commissioned the First Lady.


Five federal agencies are also on board:  The Department of Education, Department of Interior, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

“We are asking. We are asking in a very big way",  said the First Lady.

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