Who Keeps Let's Move! Moving
First Lady's fitness program driven by dedicated director
When the First Lady started her Let's Move! program to fight childhood obesity, she needed someone who could run the program on a day-to-day basis. She turned to Robin Schepper, an old hand at organizing and communicating big ideas. One of her past jobs was as communication manager at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games!
As Executive Director of Let's Move!, Schepper is the one who coordinates partnerships with organizations like the NFL, works with community leaders to extend the programs into schools, and basically keeps the First Lady's! pet project in the news. All of that helps serve the program's mission.
"It really has a big goal," Schepper told this reporter in an interview from her office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "Solve childhood obesity within a generation."
Mrs. Obama began the program in February 2010. Schepper came on board in September.
The First Lady came up with the idea for the program while still living in Chicago, says Schepper. Her daughters' pediatrician told her to watch what her kids ate and to make sure they got a lot of exercise. She talked to experts and parents about this and when she came to Washington with her husband President Barack Obama, she put her plan into action.
One of the first things she did was start a kitchen garden at the White House. She invited kids from a nearby elementary school to help plant—and later harvest—fruits and vegetables. The kids also helped prepare food from the garden, which they then ate.
"All of the sudden, kids will eat fruits and vegetables that they would normally never eat if their parents put it in front of them because they grew it," Schepper said.
|Kid Reporter Isaac Salant and Robin Schepper, Executive Director of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, in her office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy Isaac Salant)|
This also happened at her children's school after they started a garden there. One day, Schepper saw a 5-year-old girl eating a radish.
"I go up to her and I say, 'Wow, do you like that radish? Are you going to eat that radish?'" Schepper recalls. "And she puts her hands on her hips and she looks at me and she says, 'I grew that radish, that's my radish, I'm going to eat that radish!'"
Let's Move! has another program called Chefs Move to School where professional chefs adopt schools and show kids how gardening and cooking can make them healthier.
There is also a program called PALA, for Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards, where kids record 60 minutes of physical activity a day for six weeks. They set up an online progress report at www.letsmove.gov. At the end of the six weeks, they get a certificate signed by the President.
Another part of Let's Move! is a program called Let's Move Outside, where kids are encouraged to go to national parks. This is another way to get kids to run around rather than sit in a house watching TV or playing video games. Kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day and adults should get 30, says Schepper.
The average number of hours that kids spend in front of a screen each day is seven. All they need is to spend one of those hours outside instead and they reach their 60 minutes of physical activity.
The First Lady's message to kids is to get active, eat fruits and vegetables, and to sign up for a PALA certificate, says Schepper.
"Get others to do it with you," she said. "You guys are your own best advocates. Kids should do this for the foundation of our country."
Kid Reporters have been following Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiation for over a year now. Check it out!
What's it take to live a healthy lifestyle? It's not as hard as you think! Kid Reporters talk to celebrities, athletes, chefs, and First Lady Michelle Obama about how healthy living leads to happy living. Gets tips, recipes, and more in the Healthy Kids Special Report.
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