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Mrs. Schmidt Goes to Washington

Apologies for the late 1930's movie reference, but I couldn't help myself (thanks, Dad!) This past week, I found myself at the gates of The White House for an event with First Lady Michelle Obama and the team behind Let's Move!, an initiative she began in 2010 to help kids and families lead healthier lives. But before I continue, let me take a step back to a couple weeks ago when I received an email with the following subject line:


The audible response went something like this: "Sqeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" after which I promptly called/emailed/texted everyone I know to excitedly share the news.

Awkward hand pose. Check.

Along with 150 other bloggers and content creators from around the country, I packed my bags and headed for our nation's capital to listen in on a thoughtful conversation around the health of our country's children.

When we arrived at the White House on Tuesday morning (my birthday, a happy coincidence!), we were invited to explore a handful of rooms on the first and second floor at our leisure, one more beautiful than the next. I was too nervous to drink from the White House china, instead opting to (discreetly?) slip a few embossed napkins in my purse for souvenirs. Shhh....

After we had a sufficient amount of time to ogle everything and take/tweet/IG/SnapChat a million photos and videos (#LetsMove), we were escorted into the East Room. What an honor it was to hear from representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services, The President's Council of Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (Olympian Dominique Dawes, who was lovely), The Department of Agriculture [USDA], and the Partnership for Healthier America.

The epidemic of childhood obesity is a very real, complex issue (1 in 3 American children are overweight or obese, and the ramifications are far-reaching). Fortunately, the Let's Move! initiative has accomplished a great deal to fight this problem. Here's some of what I learned:

  • 1.6 million kids attend healthier daycare centers where fruits and vegetables have replaced cookies and juice.
  • 2 million kids now have a Let's Move! Salad Bar in their school.
  • Over 10 million kids attend Let's Move! Active Schools where they strive to get 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • Over 30 million kids have access to healthier school meals.
  • Nearly 80 million people live in a Let's Move! City, Town or County.
  • 200 corporate partners have made commitments for a healthier America.
  • The creation of Choose My Plate by the USDA, which illustrates the 5 food groups that are building blocks for a healthy diet.

Additionally, did you know that through Every Kid in a Park, fourth graders nationwide can obtain a pass for free entry for them and their families to more than 2000 national parks for an entire year? How awesome is that! I also loved learning about the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which invites kids ages 8-12, in collaboration with a parent or guardian, to create an original recipe that is healthy, affordable and delicious. One winner from each state will be flown to DC for the Kids' State Dinner at the White House. So fun! If you know someone who might be a good fit, they have until April 4th to submit their recipe.

When The First Lady entered the room to give her remarks, everyone was SO excited. I've been such a huge fan of hers from the days of the first campaign trail until now, so it was a huge moment to be in the same room with her. As she lamented on her days as a busy working mom with two young daughters, not always feeding them the healthiest meals, she became not just The First Lady but another mom with similar worries and goals for her children. Luckily, she was able to turn things around in her own family, but the issue of children's health has never been far from her heart.

Mrs. Obama assured us that this is a cause she will continue fighting after leaving the White House, saying, "If we want to keep seeing better food options for our families, then we need to keep raising our voices." Oh, I just loved hearing her speak. So real, so relatable. Fan Girl Status, complete.

We wrapped things up with a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden in the South Lawn, which is used by The First Family for receptions and state dinners, in addition to a local organization that prepares fresh meals for the homeless. I might have regretted my choice in footwear, but that's okay. If you're motivated like me to eat more greens, check out White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerord's Must Have Tuscan Kale Salad recipe!

I left with one quote from The First Lady ringing in my head:

"We don't have the luxury to ignore the issue of childhood obesity. 
It's up to us, as parents, to do something about it."

Will you take a step towards a healthier diet for you and your family? I generally feel as if my family eats fairly healthy, but I know we could do better. Food for thought (literally). I'd like to thank PopSugar once again for this tremendous once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's one I'll not soon forget.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this trip. All opinions are my own.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Ellen. I loved every picture and every word!

Trudy Mollan said...

Thank you for this Miss Ellen. I enjoyed every picture and every word.

Monica said...

I love the title! And you are a master at capturing ALL of the important info. What an honor Ellen, love reading about this experience through your lens and seeing all of your photos.

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