Seventeen Arlington campers, ages 8 to 11, joined First Lady Michele Obama at the White House on Tuesday to celebrate the upcoming first anniversary of the Drink Up campaign, an initiative that encourages Americans to drink more water, more often.
The kids were part of the Carver Community Center Summer Expedition Camp. Many of them also take part in Arlington County’s Kids in Action after school program. Both of these programs, which are coordinated through the Department of Parks and Recreation, focus on fun, safe and enriching options for children that also include healthy snacks, active programming and opportunities to help children learn to make healthy diet and activity choices.
“Meeting the First Lady made the message of drinking water and living a healthy lifestyle resonate with our campers in a life altering way,” said Jane Rudolph, Arlington’s director of parks and recreation. “We work hard to be healthy role models to our campers and create an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice, but being at the White House took it to another level!”
The Arlington campers were joined by children from a Washington, DC YMCA on the White House’s South Lawn in front of a 60-foot by 43-foot water droplet composed of 2,000 blue “Drink Up” water bottles and met Mrs. Obama. Obama used the opportunity to encourage people to drink more water from the tap, water fountain or bottle.
Arlington has a culture of fitness
In 2008, Arlington County Board Member J. Walter Tejada started the FitArlington initiative, to encourage a Culture of Fitness in our community. Since that time, Arlington has developed a number of innovative programs that support wellness, including incorporating fitness and nutrition goals in summer camps and after school programs. The County also provides only healthy vending options in parks, schools, community centers and libraries. It also asks community members to refrain from smoking in County parks and playgrounds. The County has offered a number of training programs and resources for professionals who work with children, so that they, too, can include opportunities for the kids in their programs to learn about healthy choices through nutrition programs and fun physical activities.
Arlington County’s programs are part of the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Commit to Health Initiative. Working in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America, NRPA is carrying out a large-scale, national campaign that improves healthy eating and physical activity standards for youth at park and recreation sites across the nation.