When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans 10 years ago, I became a public servant almost by accident â€“ looking around at our devastated community, I joined a group of doctors, nurses, officers from our U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and members of the community who came together to get our neighbors the care they needed. It was a real grassroots effort, driven by a community-based vision for our cityâ€™s future.
I saw that same spirit, passion and grassroots effort a week ago at the White House, where approximately 150 parent bloggers (who are so critical to our communities) came together to learn, share stories and hear from leaders throughout the Administration about the ongoing efforts to raise a healthier generation of kids through First Lady Michelle Obamaâ€™s Letâ€™s Move! initiative.
Letâ€™s Move! is based on a simple premise: There are things we can do, as parents, educators and community members to ensure that every child, in every neighborhood, has the same opportunity to grow up healthy. These are locally-driven efforts, with elected officials, schools, community organizations and houses of worship stepping up to make health a priority.
The First Lady, who hosted the event and spoke to the group, has made it her mission to improve the health of our nationâ€™s children through Letâ€™s Move!. Â Last weekâ€™s event helped these active and influential parents see the role they can play in building stronger, healthier communities throughout our country.
At the event, I had the privilege of joining Deb Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Letâ€™s Move!; Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Dominique Dawes, Co-Chair of the Presidentâ€™s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, for a panel on the work we are doing throughout the Administration on this important issue.
One of the key components of Letâ€™s Move! is a call to action for mayors and other local elected officials to adopt long-term, sustainable and holistic approaches to addressing childhood obesity. During our panel, I had the chance to make an exciting announcement: Letâ€™s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties has now been adopted by enough communities to reach over 80 million Americans. This is an incredible accomplishment. And moving forward, we are looking to continuing to work in partnership with the National League of Cities to achieve our goal: assisting local elected officials as they work to prevent childhood obesity.
This is a tremendous accomplishment, but it is far from our only progress:
- Letâ€™s Move! Child Care has led to more thanÂ 16,000 child care providers, serving more than 1.6 million children, committing to helping build a stronger, healthier futures for our kids.
- Letâ€™s Move! Active Schools has led to nearly 18,000 schools reaching over 10 million students with physical activity before, during, and after schoolÂ for at least 60 minutes a day.
- Letâ€™s Move! Faith and CommunitiesÂ has led to certifying nearly 3,000 faith and community leaders who are committed to wellness.
- Letâ€™s Move! Salad Bars to Schools has led to more than 4,000 salad bars being installed in schools, reaching more than 2 million students.
- Letâ€™s Move! in Indian Country has led to more than 400 partners and sites committing to reducing the rates of child obesity in our Native American communities.
For all of our progress, we know our work is far from finished. That is why this event â€“ where a room full of dedicated, energetic community leaders and influencers came together to take on one of our toughest challenges, the health of our children â€“ was so important. And it is a reminder of just how significant an impact we can make when we put our communities at the center of our conversations about health.