Getting Involved on the Anniversary of Let's Move: A Challenge

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We've seen time and time again how fixing one problem can cause a different one. We fret about test scores, so we cut physical education out of the school day so we can work more academics in. We take a chunk of land that was only used by some neighbourhood kids to play touch football and turn it into a strip mall to recharge the economy. We are starved for time so we grab something fast instead of grabbing something good.

These little changes add up until we have a crisis on our hands, namely, that since 1980, obesity has doubled in adults and tripled in children. And those numbers are even higher when we look at minority populations.

It all comes down to infrastructure -- both the hard infrastructure of sidewalks and parks giving people the place to move and the soft infrastructure of food choices in schools or giving women who choose to breastfeed the support to be able to pump during the workday. See, little things -- such as what we put in our vending machines or the placement of processed foods inside a store -- bring us to the point where we are right now.

Michelle Obama Let's Move
Credit: © Chuck Kennedy/White House/ZUMAPRESS.com

Today is the first anniversary of the First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. For one year, people have been working on lawmaking, such as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; meeting with associations to invoke change in restaurants, such as making it easier for people to identify healthy choices on a menu; building hiking trails and fixing sidewalks and installing salad bars in schools.

And there are still clear goals lined up for this upcoming year of Let's Move. According to the White House,

Let’s Move! is working towards the goal of one million Americans earning the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) by September 2011. Organizations across the country are helping meet the goal: the National Football League (NFL) alone is signing up 200,000 kids.

They are looking to get more people involved in Let's Move Outside (something I'm thinking about now as I sign up the kids for camp) and get communities to pitch in to create safe routes to school.

And if heard the First Lady speak today on the Today Show or Regis and Kelly and want to get involved, there are plenty of things YOU can do.

  • Reach out to your regional office of Health and Human Services and ask what projects are being done in your area.
  • Look up races that are happening in your area and commit yourself to training for one. Races can be great motivators to get people committed to walking or running regularly.
  • Plant a garden either in your home or at a local school and involve kids in tending it. If you don't have space to garden, make a commitment to bring your kids or students to a Farmer's Market or local farm in order to observe how we get our food.
  • Get a salad bar in your school. According to the White House, there is a commitment "over the next three years to put 6,000 salad bars in schools across the country, making fresh vegetables a more accessible choice for children." And it could be yours if you help bring it.
  • Sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award and fulfill your desired challenge. For kids, it's an hour of activity 5-days-per-week for 6 weeks. For adults, it's a half hour of activity for the same amount of days. For both kids and adults, there are other options such as counting your steps with a pedometer.

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But let's not stop with ourselves. I want you to go over to PALA, sign yourself up, AND sign up your kids, partner, or parents too. I want you to make this commitment with another family member. And then, I want you to come back here and add your blog using the Mr. Linky function below so people can see that they're part of a movement. That they're not caring about their health in a vacuum, but there is a sea of women standing with them, cheering them along.

I want you to sit down with your kids and talk about why you're signing up the family for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. I want you to have them look at their eating habits and how much they're moving during the day. Ask them to assess the world around them -- is there time during school hours to move? Are there parks in your community? Empower them to make change occur.

As the First Lady said during a conference call on Tuesday, this problem won't be solved in a year or two or even three. "This is a generational problem." In other words, it's going to not only take a generation to see this problem disappear, but it's also going to take a generation of people pitching in to make this change. It's not going to be the lawmakers or the food processors or the restaurant owners who make this change happen -- all they're going to do is provide the infrastructure; the possibility to make it happen. But it comes down to all of us to ensure that the next generation makes good choices when it comes to food and fitness.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

Original for BlogHer

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