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Kids and College Volunteers all benefit from Let’s Move! in Kansas City

A Let’s Move! event designed to keep children active and avoid obesity turned into a chance last month for college students to encourage disadvantaged high school students to stay in school.

The dual program began with 10 volunteers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The university students helped stage a Let’s Move! rally on April 29 at Satchel Paige Elementary and Hartman Elementary. They were assisted by 20 Northeast High School students. Together, the teens and young adults led the children in stretching exercises, push-ups and running an obstacle course.

They hoisted a giant parachute as children ran underneath, and they moved the brightly colored parachute in waves as the kids bounced balls off the undulating tarp. The gyms at the two elementary schools were filled with laughter, the scampering of little feet and the sweat of volunteers. 

Students participate in parachute exercises at a local elementary school in Kansas City, Missouri.

A brave university volunteer donned the costume of “Power Panther,” the official mascot of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s good-nutrition program. The volunteers were led by the two top-ranking federal health officials in the state as well as school Superintendent J. Wm. Covington.

Judy Baker, Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, poses with USDA good-nutrition mascot, "Power Panther."

Judy Baker, Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Jose Belardo, the Regional Health Administrator, spoke to the students about the importance of staying active and eating a well-balanced diet.

Judy Baker, Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, speaks to children at a local elementary school in Kansas City, Missouri.

After two hours of activities, the UMKC students talked with their high school counterparts about college life and encouraged them to stay in school and aim for a college education.

The dual purpose of the events helped spread the word about Let’s Move! while providing high school students with a glimpse at a future they might not have realized was within their grasp.