“Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” Series Ends Where Reading Begins — at the U.S. Library of Congress

Secretary Duncan joined Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, Chef Pati Jinich, and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the final 'Let's Read! Let's Move!' event this summer. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Secretary Duncan joined Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, Chef Pati Jinich and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the final ‘Let’s Read! Let’s Move!’ event this summer. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

The final “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” event of the summer took place on July 30 at the Library of Congress. The “Let’s Read!” segment of the event took place in the Thomas Jefferson Library Exhibit, an area which took on a whole new meaning for many of the students after they learned that the last event hosted there had been for the Queen of England.

Secretary Duncan began by introducing his panel of celebrity guests that included Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, chef and host of the Pati’s Mexican Table TV show Pati Jinichand NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. They all took turns reading the book Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock and John O’Brien, with Chef Pati also translating into Spanish. From the story, everybody learned more about the reasons for the construction of the library building where we were sitting. Dr. John Cole, Jr., Director of the Library’s Center for the Book, then delighted all the children by announcing that each child would get a copy as a memento of the visit.

The Secretary’s guests answered the children’s questions, and emphasized the significance of a good education and a healthy body. Then, the children eagerly “followed the leaders,” Chef Pati and the Acting Surgeon General, to their different stations to begin the “Let’s Move!” segment of the morning event.

At his station, Dr. Lushniak gave everyone a real workout that got our blood pumping! He also emphasized his advice that they stay active, eat well and “never start smoking!” At another station, the children helped create a delicious plate using USDA’s My Plate guide, and learned more about nutrition from Chef Pati ,who shared some alternatives to their favorite junk food. After high-fiving Lushniak, an unexpected guest, USDA’s Power Panther, eagerly looked on and participated in exercises with the children. Library of Congress staff from the Young Reader’s Center also engaged the children in a Reading Discovery game, which involved a scavenger hunt through their new book and a quiz to see what they had remembered from the story they had just heard. The final station was a re-shelving book relay, coordinated by the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington’s Physical, Healthy, Driven program, which tested the children’s balance and pace by getting them to navigate around an obstacle course of books, while balancing a book on top of their heads. Some of them even got to compete against Warren Moon in this activity!

The event concluded with a book distribution, in which each child received a backpack with healthy snacks and another book of their choice, courtesy of Target and its partnership with First Book. AmeriCorps members also supported the event, and the Library staff provided a tour of the main reading room overlook to all the YMCA youth volunteers and interns who worked the event.

All in all, it was a day unlikely to be forgotten by the younger and older guests alike!

Lisa-Marie O’Malley is a summer intern in the Office of Non-Public Education at the U.S. Department of Education. She is a student at the University of Limerick.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Soars to New Heights

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Soaring to new heights at the National Air and Space Museum during a Let’s Read, Let’s Move! event. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

The third installment of ED’s summer series Let’s Read! Let’s Move! blasted into space at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on July 23.

Secretary Arne Duncan read The Astronaut’s Handbook, by Meghan McCarthy, with chief curator of the National Air and Space Museum Peter Jakab, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri, and Carla Hall, chef and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew.”

“A book in your hand is more powerful than any space engine,” Jakab said.

With eyes fixated on the rockets and spaceships hanging from the ceiling,  students from youth centers and schools throughout the Washington, D.C., area filed into the Space Race gallery.

Clad in personally decorated astronaut helmets, they listened closely to the book’s themes of hard work, good study skills, and the keys to being a team player.

In addition to the book reading, there was a Mission to Mars puppet show and a question and answer session where kids quizzed the panel on the rules for pets on spaceships and the travel time from Earth to outer space.

Chef Carla’s food demonstration taught kids about fruits and vegetables that can be eaten in space, after she and the MusicianShip marching band led the students to the Let’s Move! activities featuring a group dance.

“It’s wonderful to broaden kids’ minds and to be at an event where you can find education in new ways,” Hall remarked.

The YMCA’s Physically Healthy and Driven program volunteers led the Let’s Move! activities including “exercise like astronauts,” where kids did commander crunches, pilot push-ups and competed in a shopping cart health food races before picking up a book bag and complimentary children’s book donated by Target.

The next and last Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event is scheduled for July 30. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.

Molly Block is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. She is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Supreme Court Hosts “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” Event — An Historic First

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Students walk toward the Supreme Court for the second Let’s Read, Let’s Move! event of 2014. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

The second Let’s Read! Let’s Move! session of this summer took place at the U.S. Supreme Court on July 16. It was the first time the literacy and enrichment event was held at the historic location.

With the Capitol dome as the backdrop, students from Washington, D.C.-area schools exited their yellow school buses, squinting as they peered in awe at the massive columns of the Supreme Court.  Students hailed from William Paca Elementary School, St. Philips Child Development Center, the Metropolitan Day School, the United Planning Organization, and Judith P. Hoyer Montessori School.

A young girl got into the Let’s Move! spirit, counting as she climbed the steps to the courtroom, “…35, 36, 37, 38—wow!” Extending their arms towards the ceiling to take in the size of the vast space in the Great Hall under the rotunda, children peeked into the courtroom on their way to the East conference room.

Secretary Arne Duncan, joined by Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court Pamela Talkin, and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, read Marshall the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the Supreme Court. Phrases from the book, such as “voting unani-MOUSE-ly,” generated laughs from everyone in the room.

Secretary Burwell kneeled with the children to show the illustrations in the books and to point out that each page had hidden turtles—symbols of longevity, and the slow, yet deliberate pace of justice.

During the question-and-answer session, a child asked, “Why is the courthouse so pretty?” Talkin explained, “It is made to look special so every citizen understands how important the law is, as [the law] covers everyone from children to grown-ups, protecting our rights. It is a beautiful building because it does a beautiful thing, and we have a system that works.”

Energetic shrieks could be heard as the Let’s Move! activities commenced in the courtyard with joyful children participating in Supreme Court-themed activities emphasizing teamwork.

Children participated in the Scales of Justice Bean Bag Balance, the Majority Rules and Statute Stackers Relay Race, the Bill of Rights Frenzy, and they “exercised” their rights with the YMCA’s Physically Healthy and Driven program volunteers.

When I asked some students about their favorite part of the event, many responded, “Having the book read out loud.” In the courtyard, a student shrieked, “I found the turtles!” Sure enough, under the antique lamp posts were turtle sculptures.

The summer learning continued as interns, YMCA volunteers, and ED staff entered the courtroom for a lecture about the judicial functions of the Supreme Court and the building’s history.

The next two Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events will be held on July 23 and July 30.

Viviana Altamirano is a rising junior at Middlebury College. She is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer 2014 Kick Off

The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series danced off to the beat of the Native American drum with the Black Bear Singers surrounded by 225 children, ages three to seven, in a continuous round dance at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) on July 9, 2014.

Secretary Arne Duncan was joined by NMAI Director Kevin Gover, Washington Kastles tennis coach Murphy Jensen, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, White House chef, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor on nutrition in the Office of the First Lady Sam Kass, and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer. The USDA Power Panther also made an appearance, motivating all in attendance to improve their eating and physical activity behaviors.

Students sang “Happy Birthday” to the museum at the top of their lungs and listened closely as Duncan and his friends read The Butterfly Dance by Gerald Dawavendewa. During the question and answer section following the reading, students quizzed the panel on their favorite books and sports.

Shortly after, the event transitioned to Let’s Move! activities, including a food tasting of banana chips with NMAI Mitsitam Café staff , indoor tennis with Washington Kastles team members Martina Hingis, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds and Kevin Anderson, igloo building, an obstacle course through “the Wetlands,” complete with a kayak, Yup-ik yo-yo demonstrations, and Hawaiian bowling with the help of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. At the end of the day, each child left with a new book, healthy snacks, and a book bag courtesy of Target and its partnership with First Book.

The next installments of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series are scheduled for: July 16, July 23 and July 30, in various locations throughout Washington, D.C. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.

For highlights of this week’s event, watch our Let’s Read! Let’s Move! kick-off video:


Molly Block is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. She is interning with the Web Team in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

An Active Return to School in Arizona

Cheerleaders

Photo courtesy of J and L Photography

Acting Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for the United States Department of Education Michael Yudin joined a crowd of more than 1,000 students, teachers, and parents in Marana, Ariz., on September 11, in an effort to bring healthy habits back to America’s schools through the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Active Schools (LMAS) initiative.

Yudin greeted an ecstatic student body at a pep assembly hosted inside Marana Middle School’s (MMS) gymnasium on Wednesday and was supported by members of the town of Marana and 17 school wellness coordinators from each school in the Marana Unified School District. After being introduced by Marana Middle School principal Kristin Reidy, Yudin congratulated the school for joining LMAS and spoke of MMS’s strong push to keep both students and community members active. Yudin supported the school’s efforts to be healthy, commenting that after school opportunities such as an open gym, cardio and weight rooms, and various family-oriented athletic programs make Marana unique. He then continued by praising Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative, encouraging every school in rest of the district to join along with MMS in hopes of becoming only the second district in the entire U.S. to accomplish such a feat.

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The Stars Come Out for Let’s Read! Let’s Move!

Let's Read event at ED HeadquartersThe fourth installment of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series at the U.S. Department of Education brought out the stars last week as Secretary Arne Duncan joined Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, the NBA’s Jeremy Lin, former NFL player Brian Mitchell, Actor Hill Harper and DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Our special guests spent the afternoon reading and participating in fun physical activities with young learners from the local DC area. Watch our video highlights of the event:


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

You can also check out this an article about last week’s event from The Washington Post.

The last installment of this summer’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series will take place tomorrow, August 6, and will include Drew and Jonathan Scott. The events are part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer enrichment series, which engages children in summer reading and physical activity over the summer months, and promotes healthy eating habits.

Adam Sperry is a student at New York University and a current intern in the Office of Communication & Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Keep Your Kids Happy and Healthy: Summer Tips for Parents

Summer is the best time to provide your child with snacks that promote energy and good healthy eating practices and to make sure they get the exercise and rest they need. Here are a few tips for your child’s summer health.

  • Make sure your child is getting daily exercise. Encourage your child to stay active.  Have them walk, run, swim, play sports, jump rope, ride bikes, or go skating daily.  Check out LetsMove.gov for more information.

    Kids Exercising

    Photo courtesy of LetsMove.gov

  • Make sure your child eats healthy.  Give your child healthy snacks. Prepare snack bags of vegetables such as carrots, celery, or cucumbers and/or fruit such as apples, pears, or berries.

We hope these tips help you keep your child happy and healthy this summer!

For more information for parents from the Department of Education, visit our Parent and Family Engagement page.

Diondra Hicks is a student at Georgetown University and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach. 

Seize the Summer: Keep Kids Active & Engaged in Learning

Did you know? Students can experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer months. On average, students lose the equivalent of two months of math and reading skills during the summer months. More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.

ReadingThis summer, let’s work to change that. Together, parents, guardians, and community members can help give our children the best foundation for the upcoming school year.

Stay Engaged:

Encourage reading all summer long. This will help prevent the “summer slide” and provide benefits that can be seen year-round.

  • Visit the local library and help your child put together a summer reading list. Celebrate each time he or she finishes a book, this will encourage them to complete the list by the time the summer ends.

Be Creative:

Summer is the perfect time to let your child’s imagination run wild and stimulate creativity. Kids.gov provides resources for arts and crafts projects that will keep children engaged and their minds active while having fun.

  • NGA Kids – Choose from a variety of activities or projects from the National Gallery of Art, enjoy an animated musical adventure, take a tour through the sculpture garden, and more.
  • Smithsonian – Are your children fans of Night at the Museum? Then this is the perfect activity for them. Here you are magically taken to the museums at night. To get back home, you have to solve mysteries and help your new friends find their artworks.

Stay Active & Healthy:

In addition to academic risks, children can also be at an increased risk of weight gain when they are out of school during the summer months. Take advantage of the warmer weather and keep youth active outdoors.

  • KidsHealth.org – How do you feed a picky eater or encourage a child to play outside? Learn how to keep your child healthy with the right foods and exercise.
  • Let’s Move! – Opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in and out of school and create new opportunities for families to be moving together.
  • USDA Summer Food Program-  This U.S. Department of Agriculture program provides free meals to all children 18 years old and under in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.

For additional tips throughout the summer, follow @usedgov on Twitter, and check out the U.S. Department of Education Facebook page.

Kelsey Donohue works in the Office of Communication and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education

Surgeon General Tastes Healthy Schools’ Recipe in Chicago

student chefs with Surgeon General

Greene 5th grade chefs Daisy Salgado (left) and Gilberto Castaneda share healthy cooking tips with the Surgeon General and Mildred Hunter of the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services – Region V. Photo courtesy of the Healthy Schools Campaign

Everyone wants healthy school environments, but limited funding, space and time can challenge robust plans. The Healthy Schools Campaign has helped some Chicago schools build innovative partnerships and strong parental support to work around those issues, and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, got a taste of the results during a recent visit to Chicago’s Nathanael Greene Elementary School.

During her visit, the Surgeon General chopped fresh salad greens with Greene 5th graders and volunteers, dug-in with 2nd graders planting some of those same vegetables, and teamed-up with students jump-roping and other rainy-day recess activities in the school’s limited indoor space.

“As America’s doctor, I can tell you that what you’re doing here is special,” said Dr. Benjamin to parents representing Greene and other Chicago schools of Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables  — formed by HSC in 2006 to combat growing health disparities in Chicago.

Parents told the Surgeon General about after school classes like Zumba and healthy cooking they’ve helped implement in their schools. Many also helped their schools begin to serve nutritious breakfasts – now a standard throughout Chicago Public Schools.

“These activities make a difference for kids. We helped to make them happen,” said parent Jose Hernandez of Calmeca Academy Elementary School.

Local community and government leaders joined Benjamin for a lunch made of locally grown and sustainable items. The meal was developed and cooked by CPS high school chefs as part of a recent Cooking up Change competition.

“Three years ago, we began working with the district to challenge schools across the city to make changes to nutrition education, physical activity and other areas to meet the high standards of the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge,” said Rochelle Davis, founder and executive director of HSC, which recently exceeded its initial goal of helping more than 100 Chicago schools to receive HUSSC certification. HUSSC is promoted through First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign against childhood obesity.

Healthy schools are a cornerstone of the National Prevention Strategy (NPS) to improve Americans’ health and quality of life.  Benjamin leads the NPS charge that incorporates the work of 17 federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, which last week announced the 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees that are helping to create healthy and sustainable learning environments.

Julie Ewart is the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Great Lakes Region of the U.S. Department of Education

Hey Kids, Let’s Get Cooking!

Recipe Book

Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

Cross-posted from letsmove.gov.

First Lady Michelle Obama is once again challenging America’s most creative junior chefs to put their talents to good use and whip up some delicious lunchtime recipes.

Let’s Move! is thrilled to announce the Second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner, a nationwide recipe challenge that originated to promote healthy eating among America’s youth, sponsored by The White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious.

“Last year’s Kids’ State Dinner was one of my favorite events we’ve ever done for Let’s Move! because it perfectly captured how young people, parents, community leaders and businesses can come together for innovative, healthy solutions,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “Last year’s young chefs impressed and inspired me with their creativity, and I can’t wait to welcome a whole new group to the White House this summer and taste their creations.  So kids, let’s get cooking!”

The second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” invites parents or guardians and their kids, ages 8-12, to create and submit an original lunch recipe that is healthy, affordable, and tasty. Each recipe must adhere to the guidance that supports USDA’s MyPlate to ensure that the criteria of a healthy meal are met. Entries must represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half the plate or recipe.

Fifty-six children and their parent/guardian (one pair from each of the 50 states, plus the U.S. Territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico) will be flown to Washington, DC where they will have the opportunity to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House this summer, hosted by Mrs. Obama. A selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.

Recipes can be submitted April 3 through May 12  online at recipechallenge.epicurious.com, or via mail at “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge c/o Epicurious.com,” 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.  


Learn more:

Let’s Move! Active Schools Initiative Hits the Schoolyard!

Yesterday, some 6,500 students in Chicago were moving, shaking, jumping and dancing in what may have been the largest coordinated “recess” in history. Why the sudden burst of activity? It has a lot to do with one of the enthusiastic recess leaders: First Lady Michelle Obama.

Active Kids Perform BetterTo mark the third anniversary of her Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation, Obama is reaching out to schools. Yesterday, the First Lady announced the launch of Let’s Move! Active Schools (LMAS), an new collaboration with the private sector to increase physical education in public schools across the country. A $70 million program, the LMAS website provides simple steps and tools to help schools create active environments where students get 60 minutes of physical activity before, during and after the school day.

Students spend the majority of their day in or at school, and yet physical education programs around the country are feeling the strain of ever tightening school budgets—just as the country is finally starting to see some signs of progress in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic. Currently, only 20% of school districts require daily recess and only one in three kids is active every day.

“We can’t use tough economic times as an excuse,” Secretary Arne Duncan said on the Dr. Oz show that aired yesterday. “We have to get past this false dichotomy. Some people think, well, we can spend time helping kids be successful academically or we can help them play and be active physically. And that’s a false choice. Those two things reinforce each other.”

At the Chicago event, the First Lady and Duncan joined government officials, business leaders, athletes and Olympians in calling on school staff, families and communities to work together to reach an ambitious goal of engaging 50,000 schools in the Let’s Move! Active Schools program over the next five years. “Helping students become more active physically also helps students become more successful academically,” said Duncan.

For its part, the U.S. Department of Education will continue to support both physical and nutrition education in schools by realigning its $80 million Carol M. White Physical Education Program (“PEP”) to prioritize schools most in need and support applicants with plans to maximize their reach by building cost effective, sustainable programs. Applications for the next round of PEP grants are being accepted until April 13, 2013. For the next round of funding, ED is encouraging alignment with both the Partnership for a Healthier America’s new design filters for effective physical activity programs and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition’s new Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP).

Whether you are a parent, teacher, school administrator or community member, get involved in making your school an active one and visit LetsMoveSchools.org to determine how your school is doing, what you can do to help, and what resources Let’s Move! Active Schools can offer to assist you.

Click here to read more about the launch of Let’s Move! Active Schools.

Don Yu is a special advisor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education

Back-to-School Bus Tour Ends on High Note

Secretary Duncan at Virginia Western

Secretary Duncan participated in a town hall at Virginia Western Community College during the last day of ED's back-to-school bus tour across the country. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

On its final day, the Education Drives America bus made stops in Roanoke and Richmond, Va., and a final rally at the Department of Education headquarters in Washington. In Roanoke, Secretary Duncan joined Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier for a town hall at Virginia Western Community College, where they announced the new Adult College Completion Toolkit.

Following the town hall, the bus stopped at Henderson Middle School in Richmond,  where he highlighted First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. Duncan toured the school, visited with local officials, and played basketball with middle and high school students and Virginia Commonwealth University Coach Shaka Smart.

Secretary Duncan talks with students at Henderson Middle School in Richmond, Va. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Secretary Duncan talks with students at Henderson Middle School in Richmond, Va. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

The Education Drives America bus made its final back-to-school tour stop in Washington on the plaza of the Department’s headquarters. Hundreds of area students, ED staff and community members gathered for remarks by Arne, student performances and a concert by the up-and-coming band Kids These Days.

During the tour’s eight days, we met thousands of dedicated students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. ED staff left each stop with new ideas on what is working as well as what things aren’t working. The tour gave staff new ideas of how, fresh insight, and a keen understanding that education really does drive America.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we reflect on the Education Drives America back-to-school tour or sign up to receive blog updates in your email inbox.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital engagement and blogged and tweeted his way from coast to coast during ED’s annual back-to-school bus tour.