You've seen the FLOTUS mom-dance. (Hopefully.) Now you know the backstory: Michelle Obama officially launched a new initiative today, "Let's Move," to help schools and parents integrate physical education into kids' lives, with the goal of getting 50,000 schools on board over the next five years.
Schools are cutting P.E. time or eliminating it all together because they're strapped for cash. But the first lady thinks that "just because it's hard doesn't mean we should stop trying," as she said in her prepared remarks. "It means we should try harder. It means that all of us - not just educators, but businesses and nonprofits and ordinary citizens - we all need to dig deeper and start getting even more creative."
"Creative" could mean learning the alphabet while dancing or multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks so kids can get in their recommended daily hour of exercise, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the New York Times. Whatever it takes to get kids moving, since schools can't control how much time they spend watching TV or playing video games or SnapChatting each other while not on campus.
"Let's Move" offers "modest" grants from the Education Department. Nike has committed $50 million to the effort over the next five years; a bunch of other groups including Kaiser Permanente and the General Mills foundation have pledged more than $20 million.
Michelle announced the initiative today at McCormick Place in her Chicago hometown alongside several Olympians, including gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Gabby Douglas, sprinter Allyson Felix, tennis player Serena Williams, decathlete Ashton Eaton, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and triathlete Sarah Reinertsen, whose left leg was amputated above the knee when early on in life.
All those star athletes are incredibly inspiring, of course. But I hope that the program encourages kids who aren't wannabe Serenas and Gabbys to care about fitness, too. I've written about how being picked last in gym class again and again, for years, really messed me up: as an adult, it's difficult for me to incorporate exercise into my daily routine because I never developed a passion for being active as a kid. If the goal is to help "today's largely sedentary kids move their bodies," the initiative will have to go beyond superstar sponsors and focus on the kids who are most reluctant to jump around.