by Annie Hardison-Moody
Our Project Director, Sarah, and I were honored to be invited to the White House last week for a meeting of the First Lady’s Let’s Move faith and community partners. We were thrilled to represent Voices into Action and Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More (Faithful Families) and the great work that you all are doing in your counties to promote access to healthy foods and places for kids to be active.
Our meeting at the White House was postponed by a day because of the “snow” (which never actually appeared!), but that meant that we were able to attend a networking lunch hosted by Save the Children, an organization that is partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the Campaign for Healthy Kids. They are bringing together faith leaders to promote good health in faith communities, through the Faith United campaign. All of the attendees went around the room to talk about the work we were doing to promote healthy eating and physical activity, and Sarah and I were so inspired to learn about the great partnerships and community-based coalitions across the country. They include programs like local YMCA’s using Summer Food Service dollars to feed kids during their summer camps, faith communities who are promoting nutrition programs to help their congregations be healthier (check out Faithful Families if you are interested in this!), and universities offering their students as physical activity instructors for exercise classes in local parks.
We shared your stories with this group as well – talking about the asset mapping workshops held in Harnett and Lee counties and in Southeast Raleigh. We talked about the community-based action groups working in Harnett and Lee to identify community resources and work together to be sure that community residents know about services and programs they can tap into. We also talked about the ways Faithful Families faith communities have created community gardens, walking trails and adopted policies to serve healthier foods.
The following day, Sarah and I attended the Let’s Move meeting at the White House, during which we heard about lots of national resources to promote healthy eating and physical activity in faith and community groups. These include the National Institutes of Health’s We Can! program, the Let’s Move Active Schools initiative, and the Let’s Move Communities on the Move video challenge. We heard some great speakers, including Olympic Gold Medalist and founder of the Athletic Foodie blog, Garrett Weber-Gale and Sam Kass, Director of Let’s Move.
The First Lady was the final speaker of the day, and we can’t wait to share the video we took of her presentation (coming soon to the VIA blog!). She told us that while it is “not an easy thing to do” to change the way you live and eat, communities can come together to support each other and to make the environment such that all kids have access to the healthy foods they need and places they can be active. The First Lady reminded us all that it is the community organizations and faith communities who have the on-the-ground knowledge and the trust of communities – they have “full control over change” at a local level.
We were so inspired by the First Lady’s remarks and her commitment to ensuring that ALL children have access to what they need to be healthy. We are also – as always – inspired by the work each of you do every day to promote health in your communities, your homes, and in your own lives.
More to come soon!