Mr Proud goes to Washington


I recently had the opportunity to represent Playworld Systems at a White House briefing on physical activity. The event was held at the Executive Office Building, next to the White House.  If you take issue with the latest airport security measures and TSA pat-downs, try going to a White House briefing.  My personal data had been sent before an invitation was issued.  Arriving in the pouring rain I went through the outer checkpoint and lined up to receive my visitor badge.  I then waited about 20 minutes before being admitted to the X-ray scanner and the magic wand of security.

Once past the x-rays, it was into the time warp of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.  This is frozen in the 1880s when it was constructed as the offices for the State, War and Navy departments.  There are two miles of black and white tiled corridors and doors off them that seem so tall that two Abraham Lincolns, one on top of the other, could pass through.

Eight wide spiral staircases in grand style allow vertical movement and down one I went, seeking the auditorium.  Opening the door I saw Washingtonians at their finest operating at full throttle.  A wonder to behold.  As they have since the city was wrested from the swamp that President John Adams complained about, well-dressed people were rubbing shoulders with each other in order to generate attention and influence.  I dived in.

Every organization remotely connected to physical activity was represented, the NFL, PGA, Major League Baseball, USTA, the Olympic Committee, Girl Scouts, KaBOOM!, YMCA, the Sierra Club, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, Bally Total Fitness, American Heart Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine, NRPA, and many others.

The agenda for the meeting was to listen to plans for the Let’s Move campaign in the immediate and near-term future and to provide feedback.  We were asked not to divulge the details, but I am excited about the coming year’s possibilities of changing the obesity plague that is robbing our children of their future.

Let’s Move currently offers the only national framework for multi-level change.  Focusing on the individual choices oversimplifies the problem and Let’s Move starts to address the built environment issues with their Cities and Towns initiative and the school-related issues with Lets Move in Schools.

Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist, said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  What Ms. Mead omitted was that each of the people in that group needs to change themselves before the process can begin.   We are always ready to get others to change, but changing ourselves is the tough one.  People who are ready to try to change by committing to six weeks of adjustments in their lives can sign up for a program affiliated with Lets Move, the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA)

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