If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, you know this already, but I’ll just scream it out here in case you don’t and also because holy crap THAT JUST HAPPENED so allow me a moment to keep freaking out about it.
I went to the White House this week and I met the First Lady Michelle Obama, and generally had one of the most amazing experiences of my life ever.
How did this happen?
CafeMom/TheStir was one of the media partners working with the White House to coordinate a group of parenting bloggers and influencers for this visit and they included me on their invite list. The minute I got the email I was like, YUP THAT IS A THING I WILL DO, and bought my air ticket 30 minutes later.
Why was I there?
We were there to talk about the Let’s Move! program, and how we can help our audiences and our local communities continue to improve the health and nutrition of our nation’s children.
What did I learn?
We all know our nation’s children are fighting an uphill battle against obesity. Decreased activity, restricted access to fresh fruits and veggies, and increased exposure to processed foods are the perfect storm of conditions that have lead to 1 in 6 children in the US to become obese.
Let’s Move! has helped more the 30 million kids eat healthier school breakfasts and lunches, over 10 million kids attend schools where they strive to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and 2 million now have a Let’s Move! Salad Bar in their school.
One of my favorite parts of the conversation was hearing from Dr. Katie Wilson of the USDA. She’s been a “lunch lady” for decades, and was in charge of school nutrition at the the local level before coming to the USDA. She talked about how so much of putting a variety of fresh produce on kids’ lunch plates isn’t just about getting them to eat it. I’ve heard from a few teachers in my life that it’s “such a waste” because kids will just throw it out.
Dr. Wilson reminded us, though, that kids have to be exposed, sometimes MANY times, to these things before they finally try them. It’s about the exposure, and it’s about the conversations. It’s a teaching moment. And eventually? They’ll likely eat it. Or at least try it. When these kids don’t have the opportunity to be exposed to these things at home, this is SO valuable.
Who was there?
It was wonderful to hear from women working with Let’s Move! who are trying hard to make changes, including 3 time Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes. BTW, she is incredibly funny and relatable. She’s a mom to two little girls, including a breastfeeding infant, and I just want to have coffee with her in our yoga pants someday. She had us laughing the whole time she was talking.
Speaking of mom crushes…
Swoon! Y’all, Michelle Obama is just as beautiful in person. And to hear her talk? It was like a conversation with a good friend. She is so down to earth. As she tells it, the reason she chose to champion this cause is because she struggled with feeding her family and keeping them active at one point, too. She shared her challenges with us, and offered some really solid parenting advice, along with a healthy dose of realism and commiseration. It was like the best mom’s group ever.
Can we please make this a regular thing Michelle and Dominique? You are my people. I know this.
It was crazy inspirational. I don’t think anyone can walk through the rooms of the White House and NOT feel inspired to be a better person.
Well, aside from planning playdates with the First Lady and a 3x Olympic gymnast…
On a personal level, I want to work harder to keep my kids active. Admittedly, we are awful at doing things outdoors with the kids, but I’m motivated to check out the National Parks near us.
Did you know that EVERY 4th grader AND THEIR FAMILY can get a free pass for all national parks at EveryKidInAPark.gov?
Kendall won’t be in 4th grade for a couple years, but I know many of you out there have kids who are currently eligible or will be soon.
And here on the blog, I’ll do my best to share ways that we overcome challenges with getting the kids to eat healthy and pack in enough activity every day. I’ll be the first to admit that these are hard things to do, and our family doesn’t face nearly as many obstacles as so many families do.
This is a hard thing, especially given the challenges we face as a country right now, but it’s IMPORTANT.
How can YOU get involved?
This was my favorite takeaway. Instead of paraphrasing, here’s a direct quote for the Let’s Move! website-
“All schools that receive support from the USDA are required to develop wellness policies that address school food service and physical activity. Many schools have working groups dedicated to improving the school’s health programs and policies. These working groups go by different names across the country, such as school health team, school health council, school health advisory council or wellness council.
Parent members of these groups play a crucial role in creating a healthful school environment. Call your child’s school and talk to the principal or PTA president to find out if the school has an active health team. If it does, find out how you can become a member. If the school doesn’t have a health team, help organize one.
Okay, tomorrow I’m coming back here with a ton of pictures I got in and around the White House, and you’ll be able to download the hi-res/non-watermarked files for personal use if you’d like. I had a blast snooping around (of course, I wasn’t really snooping) the various rooms we were ALLOWED to go in with my camera. Talk about a photographer’s dream come true!