Churches nationwide are partnering with representatives of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Let’s Move was designed to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.
Spiritual leaders participated in a national conference call Wednesday afternoon detailing how congregations are setting and meeting the physical fitness goals of Let’s Move.
The call was a monthly Let’s Move Faith and Communities stakeholder call including nearly 20 people.
President and Chief Operating Officer of First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) church Denise Hunter said that the Los Angeles FAME community is combating unhealthy lifestyles in diverse ways.
Hunter said that they are using mobile farmer’s markets to provide access to nutritious food to people in food deserts, walking DVDs are being used in areas where people are not comfortable walking outside, health ministries were started and more.
“There is no one size fits all approach to this movement,” Hunter said.
She announced that September 14 will be Worldwide Recess Day in hopes of moving organizations from sedentary office environments to daily recreation time. The day will launch in Washington D.C.
“Employers are asked to commit ten minutes of their employees’ time to outdoor activity every day,” Hunter said.
Healthcare justice minister Barbara Baylor of United Church of Christ said that in January her church declared that fourth Sunday Let’s Move Sunday.
It has since been expanded to every fourth Sunday. The United Church of Christ also incorporated movement into 11:00 worship service, Baylor said.
To spice up their Let’s Move participation, the church developed the “Jesus shuffle” and other activities geared toward young people.
“We targeted the youth and encouraged them to get out and do walking,” Baylor said.
“They did a flashmob on the streets of Tampa.”
East conference Young People’s Division (YPD) director Lemmon Wright told Politic 365 about ways that the YPD, which is part of the African Methodist Episcopal church, is helping young people improve their health.
“We are encouraging young people to get active and get physically fit,” Wright said.
Wright worked as a liaison at an African Methodist Episcopal church celebration, Quadrennial in Orlando recently.
At Quadrennial various AME districts participated in physical activities including line dances, Wii games and an obstacle course.
Congregations were reminded of the importance of healthy eating through healthy snack presentations and symposiums.
The link between better physical states and the future of young people was emphasized by Wright, who said that improved lifestyles will help them answer their lives’ calling, despite living in a fast-pace “microwave society.”
“By getting healthier, they’ll be able to endure,” Wright said.
With the church playing a major role in society, Let’s Move participation can make a big difference in light of disturbing health data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people between ages 8 and 18, spend 7.5 hours using entertainment media, which includes TV, computers, video games, cell phones, and movies. Most of that time is filled with television watching.
While previous generations experienced physical education consistently as part of their education, in 2009 only 33 percent of American adolescents attended daily physical education classes.
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” Mrs. Obama said at the Let’s Move launch last year.