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'Let's Move' Healthy Living Alliance Brings First Lady Michelle Obama to Springfield

The area's Healthy Living Alliance welcomes First Lady Michelle Obama to Springfield this week. Photo Credit: Healthy Living

First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to appear in Springfield Thursday as part of her effort to fix the problem of childhood obesity in the US.  Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens designated Springfield as a "Let’s Move" city back in 2010; this week’s visit illustrates a renewed commitment to the first lady's health program. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.


Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the Ozarks Regional YMCA host a local alliance as part of the "Let's Move" idea. Patty Cantrell, director of Healthy Living Alliance, says partnerships like this let organizations share information and offer more nutrition and activities for kids.

“For example, one of our partners is the YMCA, and they’re working with School Gardens and others to educate kids about nutrition while also feeding them fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks. We’re going to be working with other aftercare programs to share learning and spread that around the town,” said Cantrell.

So far, the local alliance has around 30 partner organizations.

“Partners are the Springfield Public Schools, the City, the health department and many others looking at all of our goals related to healthy living in town,” said Cantrell.

She says these groups look for different ways to get community members to use local walking trails or bike lanes. The partners work with the city to make more of those resources available, too.

Two private schools in Springfield, St. Agnes School and New Covenant Academy, have revolutionized lunchtime with a garden bar. The garden bar provides a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables, which reduce the amount of canned produce the schools use.

“Kids, for example, with the garden bars, are really excited about the fresh food and also they get to choose what they want from the different fresh fruit and vegetable selections there. So, we have interviewed kids, and they’ve talked about how that’s a nice feature,” said Cantrell.

The children at St. Agnes have nicknamed their garden bar “The Michelle” in honor of the First Lady's efforts to provide healthy food for kids.

The alliance also put together some physical activity events, including hip-hop movement classes for after school. Last year, these classes logged more than 800 hours of physical activity for area schoolchildren.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

The First Lady is scheduled to be in Springfield on Thursday as part of her tour around the country to celebrate the three year anniversary of the "Let's Move" campaign. She's planning to visit a Walmart store and talk with leaders about labeling changes the company can make to help people choose healthier products. The White House has not indicated the exact time or location of her visit.