Obama to Kids: Get a Move On
First lady visits Camden Yards to encourage children to eat healthy, stay active.
They were at Camden Yards to protect Michelle Obama, who in turn was trying to protect the nation's children — from obesity. The first lady was at the park to announce that Major League Baseball was joining her campaign to get kids to eat healthier and exercise at least an hour a day.
"The truth is that lots of kids just are not getting healthy foods and they're not getting enough exercise," she told a group of about 40 children brought to the park Tuesday morning to listen to her pitch and participate in a baseball clinic led by major leaguers.
"We've got to get you kids focused and moving," she told them.
Wearing white pants, Chuck Taylor-type sneakers and a cap-sleeved print top that exposed her famously sculpted arms, the first lady tossed and caught a few balls herself. But mostly, she circled the field, stopping at stations where kids were running, catching flies, fielding grounders and pitching, where she clapped for their efforts, high-fived some of them and joked with the players conducting the drills.
"They said I need work," Obama said as she exited the bullpen area, where she threw with some children and Orioles pitchers Jeremy Guthrie and Will Ohman. "I'm not ready for the majors."
But Guthrie offered a positive scouting report: "She can throw," he said. "Her and the president are obviously athletes."
Despite dire warnings of a burgeoning childhood obesity problem, the kids participating on Tuesday were mostly slender, a choir open to this particular preaching.
"More exercise, and eating vegetables instead of drinking soda and eating junk foods" was Nadia Jackson's takeaway from Obama's talk. The 10-year-old added that she already does that. Still, she said, "it was cool" to meet Obama and work out with the players.
"I've been waiting for it since like two days ago," she said.
A nervous Christina McCray, also 10, has been practicing her pitching. She and Jordan Antwon Lewis, 15, were picked to throw out the ceremonial first pitches, walking out on the field before the game with the first lady.
"I never got to do anything like this before," said Christina, who goes to Graceland Park Elementary School in Southeast Baltimore. "But she said it was going to be really fun to throw out the first pitch with me."
Obama has made ending childhood obesity within a generation her signature issue since moving into the White House. There, she started a garden to promote healthy, locally grown foods, but told the crowd Tuesday that she wanted to broaden that to include a more active lifestyle. The result was "Let's Move!" a campaign that encourages parents and schools to offer healthier food options, communities to get more stores selling fresh produce in every neighborhood and kids to become more active.
She told the children that the president was challenging them to commit to at least one hour of physical activity a day, at least five days a week. Those who make the commitment could get a presidential award, she said, and "maybe you'll get to come to the White House."
The league debuted a public service announcement, personalized for each of its 30 teams, featuring the first lady encouraging kids to stretch in the grass, play tag and jump up and down, intercut with scenes of players doing that, albeit in game situations.
"When these players were kids, they found a sport that they loved. They practiced and practiced and practiced until they were better at it than anybody else," she told the children. "So we want you guys to do the same thing."