The Parent Connection: What are some of the values and benefits of playing sports that you are trying to spotlight through your Let’s Move! initiative? What role do organizations like Little League play in helping to achieve that?
First Lady: There are so many benefits to playing sports and being physically active, especially for kids—they’re getting off the couch and moving their bodies, developing healthy habits, and gaining skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. But physical activity isn’t just about our kids’ health—it’s about their success in school and in life. Studies show that kids who eat well and are physically active tend to perform better in the classroom, attend school more often, and have fewer disciplinary problems. Plus, sports help kids gain confidence, make new friends, and learn valuable character skills like teamwork and sportsmanship.
So organizations like Little League play a crucial role in providing opportunities for kids to get active – and have some fun along the way, too. That’s why my Let’s Move! initiative has worked with organizations like Little League, the YMCA, the National Recreation and Park Association, and so many others across the country to help our kids get active. And it’s why we’re working to increase opportunities for physical activity before, during, and after the school day through Let’s Move! Active Schools. So if we come at this from all angles—as parents, in our schools, and through organizations like Little League—we can help kids get the 60 minutes of physical activity they need every day.
TPC: As a mother of two young daughters, how can parents get their children more involved in physical activity and sports?
First Lady: It’s all about making physical activity fun and encouraging your kids to find activities they enjoy. Every child is different—they may not like the first sport or activity they try, and that’s OK. Millions of kids love baseball, while others love dance or soccer or riding a bike—or all of the above. But no matter what, the most important thing is that kids are doing something. So encourage your kids to keep trying new activities until they find one – or a few – that they love.
In addition, as parents, we can’t forget that one of the most important things we can do is model the healthy behaviors we want our kids to follow. And all of the parents and other volunteers who give their time and energy to Little League every year are a perfect example of that. You’re showing that if we make physical activity a priority in our own lives and dedicate time to being active together as a family, then our kids are more likely to follow suit—and enjoy it, too.
In 2014, to celebrate our 75th Anniversary, Little League presented customized gloves to the First Lady and President Obama.
TPC: What important messages of Let’s Move! would you like to share with Little League parents?
First Lady: Playing sports are a wonderful way for kids to get active—but we can’t forget about the kinds of foods they’re using to fuel their bodies as well. Nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand. So encourage your kids to make half their plate fruits and vegetables at every meal, and ask them to help out while you’re cooking in the kitchen. Those are both ways to help them build lifelong habits—and maybe even get them to try new foods as well.
Over the last five years, we’ve learned so much from parents like you about helping America’s kids lead healthier lives. For more ideas on how to eat healthy, get active with your family, and join in our fifth anniversary celebration, visit www.letsmove.gov or follow us on social media:
First Lady Michelle Obama talks nutrition with NBA superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.