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Let’s Move Task Force: More Parks and Less Recreation Deserts

Michelle Obama talks about Let's Move. (White House image)

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative kicked into gear last week with a summit of federal government leaders, researchers on childhood obesity and others. The Washington Post article on the event indicates some progress in making sure things like schoolyards and parks are part of the mix:

Obama gathered about 100 suits, profs, politicos and activists in the South Court Auditorium in the Old Executive Office Building where the air was artificially chilled, the lights were flickering and four American flags adorned the stage. Peter Orszag — Office of Management and Budget — was in the house detailing the financial costs of obesity-related health care: about $150 billion a year. Arne Duncan — Department of Education — was on stage talking about the importance of eradicating “recreation deserts,” those neighborhoods where kids simply have no place to play. And Ken Salazar — Department of the Interior — was making a pitch for building more parks in the vicinity of schools.

It was also encouraging that Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget noted “how proximity to running trails, bike lanes and gyms makes people more likely to exercise; even four blocks can make a difference.”

Leaders broke away into small groups and came back with suggestions, which were not made public. One important suggestion would be to make a strong statement on the need to place recreational opportunities such as community-accessible schoolyards and parks within short distance of all urban dwellers (and to make streets, sidewalks and bike facilities that make it easy and safe to get there).

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