Lessons From The White House

Yesterday, thanks to the fine folks at Babble, I was honored to be part of a White House conversation regarding the health of U.S. children. As many of you know, I'm passionate about the various dimensions of healthy living -- nutrition, fitness, mental health -- and it was amazing to hear from some seriously rock star women (from USDA, HHS, and more) about all that has been accomplished through Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program.

Let’s Move! includes a mind blowing number of initiatives that address intersections with schools, child care, cities, towns and counties, Indian Country, and faith communities, as well as efforts to connect kids with salad bars at school, outdoor initiatives, parks, museum and gardens, reading, and chefs. CRAZY, right?

And though I need to percolate on some of the more involved action points re: schools, communities, and urban planning, perhaps not surprisingly, my mind was turning on the question of what can be done most immediately? How can parents take action and benefit from existing resources in a simple way? What are the easiest ways to get started? Because the reality is, parents are busy and the concepts of “being more active” or “eating healthier” can be overwhelming. So today I wanted to share my 5 top line recommendations for initiating change.

1. Start early and keep at it. Olympian Dominique Dawes talked about how physical activity should be integrated early with kids, just as we do for hygiene habits. And in this video clip I shot Michelle Obama echoed Dawes’ thoughts about starting early, talking about how laying the foundation with her girls now gives them the ability to make good choices. And how that is related to her future with Let’s Move once she leaves the White House.

2. Ride your 4th grader’s coat tails! Through Every Kid In A Park, fourth graders and their families get free access to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year. AMAZING, right?

3. Get neighborhood outdoor inspiration. If you’re looking for every day inspiration in your neighborhood, check out Let’s Move! Outside.

4. Visit a local museum or garden. Nearly 700 museums and gardens across the country are part of the Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens program, offering interactive exhibits, outdoor spaces, gardens, and programs to encourage families to eat healthy food and get more active. So, so cool! Here's a list of museums and gardens by state; I loved seeing the slew of Massachusetts locations on there! 

5. Plant something. Our visit to the White House concluded with a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden. And it reminded me that throughout our many years of having teeny tiny urban spaces in which to plant things, even teeny tiny spaces matter as a means to teach kids where food comes from. So go plant something! Things like herbs and tomatoes are super easy and don’t take up a ton of space.

Image and video credits: Christine Koh