Michelle Obama’s propagating health

First lady Michelle Obama plants seeds of health and local awareness.

by Jennifer Bissell

Michelle Obama is beautiful, both inside and out. She leads by example, has style, wit, grace and intelligence. With the anniversary of her husbandâÄôs election, there is much to acknowledge and applaud. Since the inauguration, she has demanded more substance to her role as first lady and has strived to surpass expectations. According to a June Washington Post article, Mrs. Obama wants to avoid simply attending events and hugging struggling military families. She wants to show the families progress and have a purpose in each of her messages. âÄúHer desire is to step out more and have deliverables,âÄù said her communications chief, Camille Johnston. This is something she has been doing very well lately. Just this past month, Mrs. Obama opened the White House to the community. On the South Lawn she hosted a Healthy Kids Fair, later she invited local elementary school children to participate in a fall harvest and, on Halloween, she and the president passed out treats to over 2,000 trick-or-treaters. Building off her background in community outreach and service, Mrs. Obama has focused extensively on her own local community in Washington, D.C. By doing so, she serves as an example for other Americans in their own communities. Mrs. Obama has been a particularly strong advocate of health and healthy living. She understands that access to fresh food and vegetables can be difficult for many. Thus, she has taken time to offer viable family solutions. In September, she helped launch a farmers market a block from the White House, stating, âÄúIn this society today, sometimes itâÄôs hard to make regular meals, healthy meals, a part of everyoneâÄôs existence.âÄù She continued, âÄúFor those of us who are battling the time crunch and those of us to whom access to fresh food is an issue in our neighborhoods, farmers markets are a really important, valuable resource that we have to support.âÄù In addition to her support of farmers markets, she also has once again led by example and created a vegetable garden on the South Lawn. It spans across 1,100 square feet and is the first White House garden since Eleanor RooseveltâÄôs victory garden during World War II. With more than 55 varieties of vegetables, the garden provides fresh organic food for the first family, but it also serves a greater community purpose of teaching children about locally grown fruits and vegetables. For the fall harvest, Mrs. Obama invited fifth graders from local elementary schools to help out in the process. As they began, she noted that 740 pounds of food had been harvested, at a total cost of less than $200. All of the food gathered that day went to MiriamâÄôs Kitchen, a homemade meal provider for the homeless in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Obama cares about health education, especially for children. âÄúMy hope,âÄù she said in a March New York Times article, âÄúis that through children, they will begin to educate their families, and that will in turn begin to educate our communities.âÄù Researchers at Johns Hopkins University predict that by 2015, three-quarters of Americans will be obese, and according to the Center for ChildrenâÄôs Health Innovation, 26 percent of children entering kindergarten are already obese. To fight these numbers, Mrs. Obama made an appearance on Sesame Street to encourage gardening and vegetable-rich diets. âÄúAll these seeds need to grow are sun, soil and water. If you eat these healthy foods, youâÄôre going to grow up to be big and strong like me,âÄù Mrs. Obama said. âÄúI know youâÄôre going to like these vegetables, because in addition to being healthy, they really taste great!âÄù Proper nutrition has been treated as a tertiary topic for far too long. Healthy eating and practicing other healthy lifestyle habits can help to prevent thousands of illnesses, and with health care reform a hotly contested issue, one thing we can all agree upon is the importance of preventing future heath complications. While first ladies classically steer away from politics and public policy, Mrs. Obama has maintained a good balance regarding her political position. She mainly seems to focus on her own platforms, but she does often make statements on policies that truly matter to her. In regards to the presidentâÄôs health reform legislation, she adamantly endorsed the bill. In a recent video message aimed at women, she assured the public that the legislation âÄúis about ensuring that everyone in this country can care for their families.âÄù âÄúIn my role as first lady, I want to focus my attention on where policy and people intersect, and the need for health insurance reform is a critically important issue for families all across the country,âÄù she said. She is right, and while not all of us can march on Washington or sit in on the Senate debate, we can take the small steps to improving our own individual health and that of our local community. Drink water instead of pop, walk instead of drive and add some fruits and vegetables to your dinner plate. âÄúLittle changes make a big difference,âÄôâÄô Mrs. Obama said, addressing the Department of Health and Human Services. âÄúIt isnâÄôt easy to change old habits, but all of us want to live healthier lives.âÄù Jennifer Bissell welcomes comments at [email protected].