REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY AT FOUNDATION CHAIR ANNOUNCEMENT CONFERENCE CALL

REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AT FOUNDATION CHAIR ANNOUNCEMENT CONFERENCE CALL
 
Via telephone
 
11:02 A.M. EDT
 
MRS. OBAMA:  Well, good morning, everyone.  This is Mrs. Obama.  It’s good to have you all on the line.  Thank you so much for joining us as we take another very important step forward in the work to address America’s childhood obesity crisis.  This is a very exciting step for us.
 
As all of you know, nearly two months ago we launched this magnificent campaign, “Let’s Move.”  The nationwide goal of the effort, as all of you know, is to rally this country around a single and very ambitious goal, and that’s to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation so that children born today will grow up at a healthy weight.
 
And with this initiative, we’ve issued a call to action for the nation.  We said let’s move in so many ways.  We said let’s move to give parents the information that they need to make good decisions for their kids’ health.  We said let’s move to get healthier food into our schools.  Let’s move to get more supermarkets into underserved areas, so that every single American in this country has access to fresh and nutritious foods.  And we’ve also said let’s move to help our kids be more physically active –- not just in school but outside of school as well.
 
But we were also clear from the very beginning when we launched this effort that the solution to this problem isn’t going to come from Washington.  I have had the pleasure of talking to a number of experts around this issue, and not a single one of them has said that the answer to this problem is for the federal government to tell people what to do.  This is going to take all of us getting involved. 
 
It’s going to require a non-partisan effort because there’s nothing partisan about this issue.  There’s nothing Democratic or Republican about wanting our kids to lead active and healthy lives.  And there’s really nothing liberal or conservative about wanting to reduce the billions of health care dollars we spend each year treating obesity-related conditions. 
 
Ultimately, this solution is going to be about families and communities making manageable, commonsense changes that fit with their budgets that fit with their needs and their individual goals.
 
But we all have to play a role in making this happen.  Families can’t do this alone, which is why we’re bringing together governors, and mayors, and parents, and educators, and doctors, and businesses, community groups, all of us.  And I’ve spoken to almost all of these groups over the last month asking them to come together to tackle this challenge once and for all.
 
And that’s why a new foundation that we’ve created along with this movement — the Partnership for Healthy America — is going to be so critical to these efforts.  And I’m very proud of the work that’s been done to pull this foundation together.
 
The Foundation is going to serve as an independent, non-partisan player that’ll mobilize the private sector, foundations, government officials, the media and others around the goals of the “Let’s Move” campaign.
 
The Foundation will seek truly meaningful commitments from all of these players, and will do something very critical — and that is measure the success of these efforts and hold us all accountable.
 
The Foundation is going to also connect potential partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors, working to support the best, the most innovative programs in our communities -– and working to replicate these success stories all across the country.  And that’s really the key to this.  As I’ve traveled around, we have many of the answers already at our fingertips.  If you go into states and cities across this country, many are already working to bring their local solutions to this problem.  We need to highlight and elevate those successes.  This Foundation is going to be critical in playing a role in that.  So it’s very exciting.
 
I have agreed to serve as the honorary chair of this Foundation.  And today, I am pleased and very proud to announce that two incredibly outstanding individuals –- Mayor Cory Booker and Senator Bill Frist -– have agreed to serve as the Foundation’s honorary vice chairs.
 
As all of you know, Senator Frist and Mayor Booker are both distinguished public servants who are passionately committed to the health and well-being of not just our young people but this country.
 
Over the past four years, Mayor Booker has made tremendous strides transforming the city of Newark.  He’s done work to increase affordable housing, doing a fabulous job of reducing crime in the city, renovating the parks, playgrounds and recreation centers to provide safe places for children in the city to be active.  And he’s committed to making Newark a model for what a city can do to address childhood obesity.
 
So I’m so happy to have Mayor Booker with us.  I’m thrilled that he’s agreed to bring the kind of energy, that contagious energy that he has, to focus on this issue and lead this new Foundation.
 
 In addition to being a renowned heart surgeon and lung transplant surgeon, Senator Frist served, as you all know, as the Senate Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007.
 
Since he left the Senate, he’s devoted himself to health and humanitarian efforts around the world, leading medical mission trips to Africa and founding an organization called Hope Through Healing Hands to improve health care in developing nations.
 
In the Senate, he took the lead in sponsoring legislation to address childhood obesity, and I am truly delighted that he’s agreed to bring his passion and expertise to this Foundation.
 
I also want to recognize the diverse and talented group of advocates, business leaders, dedicated philanthropists who have come together to serve on the board of this Foundation.
 
Specifically, I’d like to thank the Board’s Chair, James Gavin, for offering his strong leadership to ensure that this Foundation attracts the kind of commitments that are going to be essential to reach our goals.
 
And I also want to end by thanking the extraordinary organizations that have come together to organize the fund, and fund this new Foundation.  We would not be here if it weren’t for these organizations, and they include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Brookings Institute, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
 
This is a phenomenal group of organizations, people, of leaders that represent all of America.  I am thrilled that all of you have come together to support this effort.  This is why I’m confident that we can move the mark on this issue, because this effort and this issue means so much that we’ve just been able to bring together a group of individuals that has been working on this issue for decades, that understands these challenges in a very powerful way, and will have the commitment and the passion that we need to move this issue forward. 
 
So I am grateful, truly grateful, to all of you — not just for being on this call, but for taking the time that it’s going to require to get us to our goals.
 
So with that, it is now my pleasure to turn this meeting over to Senator Frist.  Senator Frist, I know you’re there.  Thank you, it’s good to have you onboard.  I’m very excited.

The Washington Review & Commentary is a White House Blog dedicated to publishing official administration documents, press releases, fact sheets, and other information released through the White House Press Office.

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