Category Archives: Children

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks to Congressional Black Caucus About Let’s Move!

Posted by: Audiegrl

The Congressional Black Caucus was formed in 1969 when the 13 black members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined together to strengthen their efforts to address the legislative concerns of black and minority citizens. African-American representatives had increased in number from six in 1966 to nine, following the 1969 elections. Those members believed that a black caucus in Congress, speaking with a single voice, would provide political influence and visibility far beyond their numbers.

The Caucus received its first national recognition when its members met with former President Richard Nixon in March, 1971 and presented him a list of 60 recommendations for governmental action on domestic and foreign issues. The President’s response, considered inadequate by the Caucus, further strengthened their efforts to work together in Congress.

Today, there are 41 members of the Congressional Black Caucus representing many of the largest and most populated urban centers in the country, together with some of the most expansive and rural congressional districts in the nation. These members, now as in the past, have been called upon to work as advocates for America’s varied constituent interests–developing an ever-expanding CBC legislative agenda — as well as addressing the concerns of their own particular districts.

The visions and goals of the original 13 members, “to promote the public welfare through legislation designed to meet the needs of millions of neglected citizens,” have been reaffirmed through the legislative and political successes of the Caucus. The CBC has been involved in legislative initiatives ranging from full employment to welfare reform, South African apartheid and international human rights, from minority business development to expanded educational opportunities. Most noteworthy is the CBC alternative budget which the Caucus has produced continually for over 16 years. Historically, the CBC alternative budget policies depart significantly from administration budget recommendations as the Caucus seeks to preserve a national commitment to fair treatment for urban and rural America, the elderly, students, small businessmen and women, middle and low income wage earners, the economically disadvantaged and a new world order.

In the thirty-nine years since its founding, Caucus members have been successful in rising to strategic positions on House Committees to affect needed changes in federal policies. Senator Barack Obama marked the first member elected President of the United State. Never afraid to tackle the most serious social issues, CBC members are regularly referred to as the “conscience of Congress.”

Remarks by the First Lady at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference

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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks At Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

“You Don’t Have to Throw Abuela’s Cookbook Out the Window”

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks before the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference in Washington. September 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


First Lady Michelle Obama delivered remarks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) today. For more than 30 years, CHCI has been working to develop the next generation of leaders for the future of the Hispanic community and the country as a whole through scholarships, fellowships, and career programs.

She discussed the need for forward-looking organizations like CHCI to address the challenges of tomorrow, particularly the challenge of childhood obesity in America. An issue important to Mrs. Obama, not just as First Lady, but as a mother.

Now, we all know this is a serious problem in every single community in this country. But like with so many of the other challenges we face today, communities of colors have been hit especially hard. Nearly two in five Hispanic children are overweight or obese. And this isn’t just teenagers or school-age kids that we’re talking about. Believe it or not, the obesity rate among Hispanic preschoolers is higher than their white or African American peers.

And we all know what this means for their overall health. We all know the links between obesity and cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

But we also know that childhood obesity is not a stand-alone problem. We know that it is bound up in just about every other issue that we face. It is about health care. It’s about education, economic opportunity. It’s about how our food is processed, and how our cities are designed, how our children spend each day in school. It’s about the restaurants where we eat, and the grocery stores where we shop, and the decisions we make for our children every single day: decisions about how much time they spend with TV and video games, as opposed to running around outside; decisions about what they eat, how much of it, and how often. So we all have a stake in this problem. And we all have a role in finding a solution.

That’s why the First Lady launched Let’s Move!, a nationwide campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation and she asked for CHCI’s help in solving it. From working to sign up schools for the Healthier US Schools Challenge to encouraging kids to enroll in the 6-week President’s Active Lifestyle Awards program, there are countless ways to make an impact. And one way is by starting at home.

It’s about families making manageable changes that fit with their budgets and schedules, with their needs and with their tastes. And that might be something as simple as going for regular walks with your kids or maybe turning off the TV and turning on the radio and dancing a little bit in the living room until you break a sweat. (Laughter.) That counts.

Small things like cutting back on portion sizes or replacing soda with water or just putting some more fruits and vegetables on the table, all of this can add up over time and make a big difference in the lives of our kids. And, believe me, you don’t have to throw Abuela’s cookbook out the window. (Laughter and applause.)

There is a role for those time-honored family recipes, but it’s about moderation. It’s about doing our best to monitor what our kids are consuming. How many snacks are they eating? How many sodas are they drinking? Has dessert become an all-the-time food instead of just a once-in-a-while treat? It’s about being proactive, about going to the doctor and getting our kids screened for obesity.

But most of all, it’s about doing something. There are countless ways for us to start making a difference. The key is to start now, because when it comes to our children’s health and happiness, when it comes to their future, we don’t have a moment to waste. And if anyone knows what it takes to make real change in this country, it’s all of you. It’s what you’ve been doing for nearly 35 years.

In closing, the First Lady touched on the core mission of the organization and the health of our nation’s kids:

Now I remember hearing that when you all started the Hispanic Caucus back in 1976, the Speaker of the House joked that the first meeting could be held in a phone booth, because back then you had just five members. And now, you have 23. (Applause.) CHCI’s first class of fellows was all of four strong. And today, there are more than 5,000 students that have benefited from your educational services and your leadership development programs.

See, now those are results, right? That’s the kind of real impact that you have had, and can have, on this nation and on our children. And that’s the core mission of this organization, to give our children opportunities that we never dreamed of for ourselves. And that’s why all of you have organized. It’s why you’ve marched. It’s why you stood up and spoke out and refused to back down, no matter what kind of odds you faced.

And I don’t think any one in this room — or any of your parents or grandparents — fought so hard for so long only to see a future where the greatest threat to our children is their own health.

But the good news is, is that we can do something about this. This is one of those problems that’s in our hand. The solution to this problem is right within our grasp, but only if we reach for it, and only if we work for it and fight for it, only if we once again summon that urgency that has spurred us forward, generation after generation, seeking something better for our children.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Challenges Restaurants to Offer Healthy Options

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the National Restaurant Association’s Fall Board Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. September 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


“So today I’m going to talk about food, which is something that all of you here today know a little bit about,” said First Lady Michelle Obama to an audience representing forty percent of the nearly one million restaurants in the United States, from the biggest chains to the smallest diners, at the National Restaurant Association Meeting in Washington, DC.

The First Lady discussed Let’s Move!, her nationwide campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, so that kids born today can reach adulthood at a healthy weight. Let’s Move! is about attacking the problem from all different angles – from giving parents the information and the resources they need to making sure every community has access to fresh and nutritious food. Today, the First Lady called on America’s restaurant owners for their help, challenging them to offer healthy, accessible menu options:

That’s why I want to challenge every restaurant to offer healthy menu options and then provide them up front so that parents don’t have to hunt around and read the small print to find an appropriately sized portion that doesn’t contain levels — high levels of fat, salt and sugar.

These choices have to be easy to make and they have to give parents the confidence to know that they can go into any restaurant in this country and choose a genuinely healthy meal for their kids.

Now, again, I know it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy to come up with choices that are both healthy and palatable for kids. And it may mean putting in some real effort and creativity to make this happen.

Let’s Move! is committed to helping increase the demand and making it easier for restaurants to do what’s right:

And we’ve started by requiring chain restaurants to provide calorie counts on their menus and menu boards. And I am grateful for the support we’ve received from the NRA to get this done. And I want to encourage restaurants that aren’t providing calorie counts to join us in this effort.

And because so many of the calories our kids consume come from school, we’re also working to get more nutritious food into our lunchrooms and our vending machines. And, again, the NRA has been playing an important role in these efforts as well.

As part of “Let’s Move,” we’re setting a goal of doubling the number of schools that participate in the Healthier US Schools Challenge by next year. And we’re working with schools and food suppliers to offer more fruits and vegetables and to cut down on that fat, sugar and salt.

And, finally, we’re working with mayors and other local officials to make our cities and towns healthier and to highlight restaurants that agree to serve smaller portions and promote more nutritious options.

In closing, Mrs. Obama encouraged everyone in the room to join her in these efforts to help make sure that every family that walks into a restaurant can make an easy, healthy choice.

We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture — imagine this — where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.

See, after all, that’s one of the core ideals this industry was founded on. I recently learned that the term “restaurant” actually comes from the French word for “restore.” And when the idea of the restaurant business spread across the ocean, some of the first true restaurants in this country emphasized their ability to make people healthier and to cure what ailed them.

So today, you are all the heirs to that legacy. And you face a similar opportunity both as business owners — but also as parents, not just to fulfill your obligations to shareholders, but to fulfill the obligation we all have to the next generation.

Read full remarks here.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign and NFL’s Play 60 Campaign Team up to Tackle Childhood Obesity

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama throws a football during the NFLs Play 60 campaign to fight childhood obesity at Brock Elementary School September 8, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Obama joined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former NFL coach Tony Dungy to promote the Play 60 campaign and the NFLs newest efforts to support Lets Move (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

First Lady Michelle Obama and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced today that the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign and NFL PLAY 60 are teaming to fight childhood obesity.  The announcement brings together two leading youth health and wellness initiatives.

The announcement was made today at Woldenberg Park in New Orleans during the NFL PLAY 60 Youth Football Festival, part of the NFL’s celebration to kick off the 2010 season. Making the announcement were the First Lady, Commissioner Goodell, Super Bowl winning coach and current NBC Sports broadcaster Tony Dungy and former NFL players.

The First Lady’s Office and the NFL will work to promote the joint goals of NFL PLAY 60 and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity and help the nation’s youth lead healthier, more active lives.

Among the highlights:

  • Through its two primary in-school programs — the PLAY 60 Challenge in partnership with the American Heart Association and Fuel Up To Play 60 in partnership with The National Dairy Council — the NFL will support the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) program with a goal of encouraging 200,000 students to participate in the program this year. The First Lady’s Office supports programs like both the Play 60 Challenge and Fuel Up to Play 60 programs as great ways for kids to be active and healthy.

The PALA program enables people of all ages to receive Presidential recognition for leading healthier lifestyles. For more information about the President’s Challenge programs, visit www.presidentschallenge.org. Americans can earn PALA recognition by performing regular activity beyond their daily activity goal of 30 minutes a day for adults or 60 minutes a day for youths under 18 for at least 5 days per week, for a total of 6 weeks.

  • The NFL and the First Lady’s Office will develop and share co-branded content.  Among the elements will be a Public Service Announcement that will promote Let’s Move! and Fuel Up To Play 60, a joint program of the National Dairy Council and the NFL. The message will be produced in conjunction with the Ad Council and will debut in November.

NFL PLAY 60 and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign pledge to build upon the work already begun over the past year and announced today in the years ahead.  The NFL, for example, will build this fall its 100th site for children to play through NFL Play 60 as part of its NFL United Way “Hometown Huddle” day of service.

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Today’s announcement follows other recent joint efforts between the NFL and the White House:

  • President Obama last month honored the New Orleans Saints for their Super Bowl victory and spoke of the role the team has played in helping New Orleans recover from the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. The team also held a NFL PLAY 60 football clinic on the White House lawn with local Washington, DC-area youth.
  • In June, the First Lady introduced Brees as the 2010 co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Former New England Patriots great Tedy Bruschi also was named a member of the 2010 Council. Drew Brees has been the national spokesman for NFL PLAY 60 for the last three years.
  • President Obama and the First Lady joined the NFL and players from the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins in helping kids learn the value of good health as part of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll in April. This year’s Egg Roll was themed “Ready, Set, Go!” promoting health and wellness. All activities, including youth football clinics led by the NFL and NFL players, encouraged children in attendance to lead healthy and active lives as part of the Let’s Move!  initiative.
  • Last season, President Obama filmed a PSA at the White House with Brees, Pittsburgh Steelers S Troy Polamalu and Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware promoting PLAY 60 and the White House’s “United We Serve” campaign. The PSA ran during NFL telecasts on Thanksgiving weekend in airtime donated by the NFL.

Remarks by the First Lady at “Let’s Move!” Launch Event with NFL in New Orleans, Louisiana

Remarks by the First Lady at “Let’s Move Back to School” Event in Slidell, Louisiana

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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts Dance Workshop With Students At The White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama embraces Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Judith Jamison during the first White House Dance Series in the East Room of the White House September 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. The dance event was a tribute Jamison, a famous modern dancer, choreographer and muse to Alvin Ailey. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)


While the economy remains the President’s central focus, which he will discuss again tomorrow in Cleveland, the First Lady continues to celebrate America’s cultural heritage amongst her many other issues, from military families to tackling childhood obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the White House Music Series more than a year ago with The Jazz Studio, describing it as an event that “exemplifies what I think the White House, the People’s House, should be about. This is a place to honor America’s past, celebrate its present and create its future. And that’s why all of you all are here today. It’s about you, the future.” Today, Mrs. Obama will welcome dance students and world-renowned dancers for the Administration’s first event celebrating dance. Featuring American dance from ballet to hip hop.

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The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison honors Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.

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Five Years After Katrina: “New Orleans is Blossoming Again

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Jessie Lee

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the crowd at Xavier University during a ceremony on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans on August 29, 2010. Obama arrived in still-struggling New Orleans to join residents marking five years since flood waters driven by Hurricane Katrina inundated the famous jazz capital. (Photo credit JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)


Today the President and First Lady were down in New Orleans, joined by members of the Cabinet who have been working on recovery from Hurricane Katrina since they came into office.  The President spoke at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

It’s been five years since Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.  There’s no need to dwell on what you experienced and what the world witnessed.  We all remember it keenly:  water pouring through broken levees; mothers holding their children above the waterline; people stranded on rooftops begging for help; bodies lying in the streets of a great American city.  It was a natural disaster but also a manmade catastrophe — a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, and women, and children abandoned and alone.

And shortly after the storm, I came down to Houston to spend time with some of the folks who had taken shelter there.  And I’ll never forget what one woman told me.  She said, “We had nothing before the hurricane.  And now we’ve got less than nothing.”

In the years that followed, New Orleans could have remained a symbol of destruction and decay; of a storm that came and the inadequate response that followed.  It was not hard to imagine a day when we’d tell our children that a once vibrant and wonderful city had been laid low by indifference and neglect.  But that’s not what happened.  It’s not what happened at Ben Franklin.  It’s not what happened here at Xavier.  It’s not what happened across New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.  (Applause.)  Instead this city has become a symbol of resilience and of community and of the fundamental responsibility that we have to one another.

And we see that here at Xavier.  Less than a month after the storm struck, amidst debris and flood-damaged buildings, President Francis promised that this university would reopen in a matter of months.  (Applause.)  Some said he was crazy.  Some said it couldn’t happen.  But they didn’t count on what happens when one force of nature meets another.  (Laughter.)  And by January — four months later — class was in session.  Less than a year after the storm, I had the privilege of delivering a commencement address to the largest graduating class in Xavier’s history.  That is a symbol of what New Orleans is all about.  (Applause.)

He told other stories of hope and inspiration, including that of his Surgeon General, “Xavier grad Dr. Regina Benjamin, who mortgaged her home, maxed out her credit cards so she could reopen her Bayou la Batre clinic to care for victims of the storm.”  But he also recognized that there’s more to do, and made clear that his Administration has been working on it:

Now, I don’t have to tell you that there are still too many vacant and overgrown lots.  There are still too many students attending classes in trailers.  There are still too many people unable to find work.  And there are still too many New Orleanians, folks who haven’t been able to come home.  So while an incredible amount of progress has been made, on this fifth anniversary, I wanted to come here and tell the people of this city directly:  My administration is going to stand with you — and fight alongside you — until the job is done.  (Applause.)  Until New Orleans is all the way back, all the way.  (Applause.)

When I took office, I directed my Cabinet to redouble our efforts, to put an end to the turf wars between agencies, to cut the red tape and cut the bureaucracy.  (Applause.)  I wanted to make sure that the federal government was a partner — not an obstacle — to recovery here in the Gulf Coast.  And members of my Cabinet — including EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, who grew up in Pontchartrain Park — (applause) — they have come down here dozens of times.  Shaun Donovan has come down here dozens of times.  This is not just to make appearances.  It’s not just to get photo ops.  They came down here to listen and to learn and make real the changes that were necessary so that government was actually working for you.

So for example, efforts to rebuild schools and hospitals, to repair damaged roads and bridges, to get people back to their homes — they were tied up for years in a tangle of disagreements and byzantine rules.  So when I took office, working with your outstanding delegation, particularly Senator Mary Landrieu, we put in place a new way of resolving disputes.  (Applause.)  We put in place a new way of resolving disputes so that funds set aside for rebuilding efforts actually went toward rebuilding efforts.  And as a result, more than 170 projects are getting underway — work on firehouses, and police stations, and roads, and sewer systems, and health clinics, and libraries, and universities.

We’re tackling the corruption and inefficiency that has long plagued the New Orleans Housing Authority.  We’re helping homeowners rebuild and making it easier for renters to find affordable options.  And we’re helping people to move out of temporary homes.  You know, when I took office, more than three years after the storm, tens of thousands of families were still stuck in disaster housing — many still living in small trailers that had been provided by FEMA.  We were spending huge sums of money on temporary shelters when we knew it would be better for families, and less costly for taxpayers, to help people get into affordable, stable, and more permanent housing.  So we’ve helped make it possible for people to find those homes, and we’ve dramatically reduced the number of families in emergency housing.

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He discussed how his prioritizing health care and education will benefit New Orleans, noting in particular that, “Just this Friday, my administration announced a final agreement on $1.8 billion dollars for Orleans Parish schools.”  And of course there is the matter of ensuring such a disaster never occurs again, which meant restoring accountability and competency at FEMA as well as restoring stability locally:

Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina.  The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system.  And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm.  We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season.  (Applause.)  And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.

In closing, having touched on the more recent tragedy of the BP oil spill that befell the Gulf Coast, the President spoke on perhaps the most well known story of perseverence of all:

And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back.  And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job.  “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.”  The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks.  There will be challenges along the way.  But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again.

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President Barack Obama speaks at Xavier University on August 29, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Today marks the five year anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast and the storm took over 1,800 lives and devastated the region. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

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The Obama’s Leave Martha’s Vineyard and Arrive In New Orleans for 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama, his wife first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia Obama, and daughter Sasha Obama board Marine One helicopter on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The First Family completed their 10-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and flew to Cape Cod to board Air Force One to head to New Orleans where the President is giving a speech today on the fifth year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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