President's Council on Fitness, Sports, Nutrition

An old program gets a new look and focus

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The sounds of happy laughter and delighted screams filled a school gymnasium in Washington, D.C., where kids were learning new activities with jump ropes, scarves, and balls.

The kids were super pumped, as was their guest Michelle Obama. The First Lady visited Bell Multicultural High School on Wednesday to help relaunch the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. The council, which has been around for decades, now has an added emphasis on eating healthy. That fits in nicely with the First Lady's own program to fight childhood obesity called Let's Move!

Eating healthy nutritious food and staying physically active are the keys to a happy and long life, Mrs. Obama told the students.

"Our mission is to encourage young people to get enough exercise," she said of the President's physical fitness program. "Being healthy is about more than just being physically fit. It's also about eating healthy foods and developing healthy habits that kids will have for the rest of their lives."

The 16 members of the President's fitness council were also on hand to teach about living a healthy lifestyle.

"This Council is made up of everyone—chefs, doctors, health experts, personal trainers," said Mrs. Obama. "We've got it all because we know in the end, kids listen to these heroes in so many ways."

kid reporter with michelle kwan
Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang with Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan at an event in Washington, D.C., on June 23 to relaunch the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. (Photo courtesy Alexandra Zhang)


Also on hand were some star athletes who kept the kids occupied with cool physical activities. According to an informal survey by this Kid Reporter, the favorites were crab soccer and jump rope.

Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes and fitness expert Donna Richardson-Joyner led the jump-rope station where they practiced jumping 100 times while hopping on one leg. When the First Lady joined them, she surprised everyone by effortlessly jumping 100 times while crossing her hands back and forth in front of her with each jump! Both Dawes and Richardson-Joyner are members of the fitness council.

Another group of kids played a game of crab soccer with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards and former NFL star Tedy Bruschi. Constant screams of delight pierced the air!

"My favorite event is the crab soccer because you get to play on teams," said 11-year-old Oscar, one of the local students involved in the event. The group screamed even louder when it was announced that the U.S. Soccer team won a place in the top 16 competitors in the World Cup with a last minute score against Algeria.

A much quieter activity, the yoga station, was led by pediatrician Dr. Steve McDonough from North Dakota and Track and Field Star Allyson Felix. They held up cards displaying specific stretches for the kids to follow. All you could hear was quiet breathing as the young people focused on holding their stretches. Of course, there were also a few chuckles when someone fell out of a pose.

At a final station, world champion ice skater Michelle Kwan and former Major League Baseball player Curtis Pride taught kids all sorts of tricks juggling scarves. It's not as easy as it looks!

Last but not least, there was FOOD. Kids happily munched on pretzels, dried cranberries, bananas, and apples.

Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan encouraged kids to "get out and enjoy the sunshine."

"I hope [these activities] will empower the kids to take an interest in sports, and take an interest in fueling their body better and improving their nutrition and health," she told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "It's just a plus-plus, win-win for everybody."

Richardson-Joyner added an extra challenge for kids "to be good people, to be kind to others, and to lead by example" when they grow up.

To learn more about the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition check out its website. Also check out the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative website.

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Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.