Friday, May 25, 2012

Latina Bloggers Policy Briefing: Let's Move! Initiative

This is the third article in a series relaying information obtained during a White House briefing on issues relating to Latinos in the U.S.

The History

Nutritionist Marissa Duswalt is the Associate Director for Policy and Events with the Let's Move! Initiative. At the briefing, she shared with us a brief history of the initiative which was launched two years ago by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, after a routine visit to the pediatrician with her own daughters. Ms. Duswalt said that the pediatrician's advice started the First Lady to thinking about the importance of making healthy meal choices and getting children active everyday.

Ms. Duswalt said that America is facing the most sedentary generation in history. On average, children spend 7 1/2 hours a day in front of a screen. And as I mentioned yesterday, Latino children are at highest risk of being overweight and developing diabetes.

The goals of the Let's Move! initiative are to improve the health of children through physical exercise and proper nutrition. They are working closely with the Department of Health to make nutrition information friendly and accessible.

In addition, there is a strong emphasis being placed on culture and sharing time as a family. On their site, parents can find ideas for family meals and even new guidelines for gardening. Families are being encouraged to start their own gardens and grow their own fruits and vegetables for their family meals. And another goal of the initiative is to see more salad bars available in schools.

In terms of getting kids more active, Ms. Obama understands that kids - especially those in inner cities - need more opportunities for sports.

Opportunities for Your Family

Ms. Duswalt alluded several times to more exciting announcements coming this summer by the Let's Move program. This may possibly be in refrence to the U.S. Olympic Committee's commitment to bring 1.7 million new opportunities to get kids into athletics through local programs. And most of them will be free.

She encouraged us to sign up for the LM newsletter for information about upcoming events and projects. (You know I did.)

I did a little digging on the Let's Move! website and discovered that the initiative has also partnered with hundreds of community organizations to create more opportunities for kids to get moving. A couple of examples include...

Let's Move Outside Junior Ranger - A program that promotes outdoor physical activity in 50 national parks across the nation.

Let's Move Museum & Gardens - A collaboration between more than 17,500 museums, gardens, public gardens, and other learning centers to teach kids about healthy food choices and the importance of physical activity through interactive exhibits. Ask your local museum for more information.

You might be especially interested in the section on the Let's Move website that shares 42 Healthy and Kid-Friendly Recipes to Try at Home.

**And finally, I discovered The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Between now and June 17th, parents of children ages 8 - 12 are invited to submit their favorite recipe for a healthy lunch. The recipes must meet the following criteria: healthy, creative, tasty and affordable. One parent/child will be chosen from each of the 50 states to attend a Kids' "State Dinner" hosted by the White House. I would really love to see some Latino families win with some of their own healthy, cultural dishes!

Disclosure: This information was obtained during a special White House policy briefing for Latina bloggers organized by LATISM. I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the retreat of which the briefing was one aspect, and appreciate the sponsors that made it possible.


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