On a two-day trip to highlight her national campaign to combat childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama donned a coral-and-black workout outfit to jump up and down with thousands of Chicago middle school students who were brought to the McCormick Place convention center Thursday for what amounted to one very large aerobics class.
Mrs. Obama had announced a new public-private partnership, called “Let’s Move Active Schools,” to help schools find low- or no-cost ways to help students get the recommended hour of daily exercise. The line-up included such star athletes as Bo Jackson and Colin Kaepernick, as well as Olympians Dominique Dawes, Gabby Douglas, Serena Williams, Allyson Felix and Ashton Eaton.
She took a few minutes to talk seriously with the kids before she joined the fun, urging them to do their homework and make good life choices. She recalled her upbringing in a Chicago family of four that wasn’t rich and having to share a bedroom with her older brother.
“If you guys remember just one thing from our time today, it’s this: Although I am the first lady of the United States of America … I am no different from you,” she said.
Mrs. Obama hinted in the interview with reporters she’ll do more to encourage schools and other organizations to provide opportunities for children in a time of declining budgets.
“More and more of our schools are having to eliminate the things that give kids passion and a reason to be in school,” she said. Mrs. Obama added that kids are sharp enough to know when teachers, public officials others are just talking the talk.
“We have to stop telling our kids that we care. They’re looking to us to make the hard choices for them,” she said. “And going to these funerals and mourning with these kids when there’s still work to do that we haven’t done, it can be frustrating.”