Michelle Obama, joined by a crowd of famous Olympic and professional athletes in her hometown of Chicago today, announced a new “Let’s Move!” initiative to incorporate physical activity into schools.
“This is an earth-shattering, awesomely inspiring day,” she said. “I grew up just a few miles from where we are today, over on the south side. My family certainly wasn’t rich our neighborhood was barely middle class… back then being active was a way of life.”
The program, called Let’s Move! Active Schools, aims to get kids in 50,000 schools — about half the nation’s public schools— engaged in 60 minutes of activity every day.Obama was joined for her announcement by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as a celebrity crowd that included Olympians Gabby Douglas, Allyson Felix and Dominique Dawes; 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick; tennis legend Serena Williams; and thousands of Chicago students and teachers.
After the initiative was revealed, Allyson Felix, an Olympic sprinter, led the crowd and the first lady in a vigorous workout with music to blasting music. Obama then introduced musician Jordin Sparks, who came on stage and danced with the first lady.
Several major companies have partnered with the first lady, including Nike, which has pledged $50 million over 5 years to the active schools program.
Other sponsors include the GENYOUth Foundation, ChildObesity180, Kaiser Permanente, and the General Mills Foundation, who together have committed $20 million to the program. Sponsorships will go toward the in-person trainings, program activation grants, and personal assistance promised to schools who join the initiative.
The U.S. Department of Education will also be funding Let’s Move! goals with $80 million in physical educated program money, “realigning” those funds for schools that need help with their programs. According to the new Let’s Move! Active Schools website, only six states require physical education in every grade, and only 20 percent of schools require daily recess.
Obama’s visit to Chicago was part of a national “Let’s Move!” tour. Her final stop on her tour comes this afternoon in Springfield, Mo., where she will promote Walmart’s efforts to offer healthier food. The first lady wrote an op-ed this morning as well, praising Walmart’s work and urging other businesses to make healthy choices easier for consumers.