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First lady pushes fitness at places of worship

November 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
People often turn to their faith to ease their minds. Now first lady Michelle Obama is hoping people will turn to churches, temples and synagogues to lose weight as well. The first lady launched a new addition to her Let's Move! campaign. Things might be changing at local services.Starting Monday, faith-based organizations of all kinds will begin a new crusade to end childhood obesity in a generation. It's called Let's Move: Faith and Communities, and the First AME Church of Los Angeles is leading the charge.

It was an exciting morning for church leaders as they listened to one of their own make a joint announcement with Michelle Obama.

"We know it's the right thing to do in addressing the obesity epidemic in California," said Denise Hunter, president and chief operating officer, First AME Church.

Just before she left for the White House Sunday, Hunter told the congregation about Mrs. Obama's plan to involve religious groups in her fight to end childhood obesity.

"We will increase activity in our lives to do what God has put us here to do," said Hunter.

For the first lady, involving faith-based organizations is a perfect fit.

The plan calls for thousands of synagogues, churches and temples to implement exercise and nutrition activities. They're asking groups to walk 3 million miles, organize 10,000 community gardens or farmers markets, and get 500,000 people enrolled in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award program.

The campaign started Monday, so don't be surprised if you end up doing more than just sitting the next time you go to church.

The other part of Obama's initiative is to get church groups to provide healthy food to families too poor to afford nutritious meals. As an individual, you can enroll in the president's healthy lifestyle plan, which includes being active five days a week for six out of eight weeks.

BACKGROUND:

The Monday call formally launched Let's Move Faith and Communities, a unique focus within Let's Move, the First Lady's initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Let's Move Faith and Communities recognizes and encourages the efforts of faith and community organizations. Four initiative-wide challenges were announced last week to participating and interested organizations in order to support and expand efforts to reduce childhood obesity. The four cross-initiative challenges for 2011 for the entire Let's Move Faith and Communities initiative are:

  • One million miles walked or exercise programs undertaken
  • 500,0000 Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards achieved
  • Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (6 weeks of 5 days a week activity, tailored for ages and ability)
  • 1,000 additional summer feeding program sites hosted at congregations or organizations
  • 10,000 new farmers markets or community gardens hosted at congregations or community organization

Let's Move Faith and Communities affirms the unique and important role of faith and community based organizations play in reducing childhood obesity. Community and faith-based organizations and congregations offer wellness programs, sponsor health ministries, provide access to food for hungry people, and are places children learn traditions around food and wellness.

The call will also unveil print and online toolkits to support efforts. A shorter version is online here: http://www.letsmove.gov/communityleaders.php. The call featured the work of several prominent participating organizations who will also announce their concrete commitments to one or more of the initiative's four challenges. An event in 2011 will celebrate accomplishments and progress towards goals, as well as new participants and commitments.


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