Let's Move Outside
If you’ve been following the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, you know that eating healthy and getting active go hand-in-hand. Thanks to the National Parks Service’s new Healthy Foods Strategy, it will be easier than ever to enjoy healthy foods and exercise at America’s beautiful national parks.
Under a bright Hawaiian sun, a group of girls ages 11 to 18 planted a special vegetable garden that will not only teach others about ecosystems but will also help endangered sea turtles. The project is inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move! campaign and the USDA People’s Garden Initiative. The girls, who attend the same church in Mililani, Hawaii, needed a community service project. Sea Life Park on Oahu had land and a seed of an idea to plant a garden. The U.S. Forest Service helped to bring the two groups together.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday the infusion of $1 million from the current U.S. Forest Service budget toward projects and programs that get kids outside to experience the great outdoors, connect with nature and help nurture future land stewards.
Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama, along with school children from DC-area schools Bancroft Elementary and Harriet Tubman Elementary, planted the kitchen garden. Now in its third year, this planting season the garden included spinach, peas, lettuce, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries and other vegetables and herbs.
In New Bedford, Massachusetts a group of teenagers is putting its passion for the outdoors into music, using catchy beats and smooth moves to persuade other young people to get moving outside. As part of the Youth Ambassador Program (YAP!) at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, these young people – the “Yappers” is their recording name – share their experiences learning about and exploring their city through creative media. In their latest music video, inspired by the First Lady’s Let’s Move Outside initiative, the Yappers call upon their peers to get up, and get going: “Don’t be a couch potato; just get up off your feet. Go play a game or two and keep on rocking to this beat!”
There’s just something about him—six feet tall, big bright eyes, covered in brown fur. Everywhere he goes, Buddy Bison is surrounded by a swarm of kids, wanting to play with him and learn more about the Great Outdoors. In national and state parks across the country, our mascot Buddy Bison is getting kids excited about moving outside – and teaching them important lessons about what outdoor activity means for their health.
As an incredible Walk to School Month comes to an end, a record-breaking number of communities – over 3,500 – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico celebrated an active trip to school in October 2010. The challenge - and opportunity - for all American families is to continue that excitement and focus on getting out and moving more each day, every day. Not just during the official month of celebration.
Many of us tend to think of our national parks as remote destinations – spectacular sites that require families to travel great lengths to enjoy. While some parks do meet this description (the main entrance to the Grand Canyon is 80 miles away from the nearest major airport!), there are many great national parks located near or in our major urban centers.
Families in Natchez, Mississippi know how to get moving outside, and make the most of the special places in their community. The Mississippi River Connections Collaboration, which includes the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, recently hosted “Let’s Move Outside Southwest Mississippi,” a daylong celebration of healthy, outdoor recreation. Hundreds of people from Adams and surrounding counties came to Natchez – a city of roughly 20,000 people along the Mississippi River – to participate in multiple activities and explore the area’s famous historical sites.
I recently attended a workshop held by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) to educate pediatric health care providers about prescribing outdoor activities to children and families as part of their Children and Nature Initiative. As a pediatrician working in Washington, DC, I see many patients that face chronic illness as a direct consequence of childhood obesity. Many of today’s children have become creatures of the indoors, spending countless hours in front of TV and computer screens, to the detriment of their physical and mental health.