First Lady Michelle Obama was thinking of Sam Shihadeh and Rose Fakhoury when she challenged faith-based and community organizations to appoint wellness ambassadors. Sam, a personal trainer and council member of the Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Washington DC, and Rose, the Director of St. George’s Sunday School, joined forces to lead, organize and take action to improve health and wellness in their community. St. George Church hosted a Let’s Move! event on May 5th to get their community members eating healthy foods, moving and working to combat childhood obesity.
As a congregation inspired to fight obesity, the church practices what it preaches. The event kicked off with children racing through an outdoor obstacle course. During the day attendees heard from a diverse group of panelists such as doctors, personal trainers, and a registered dietitian, on the importance of leading a healthy life. I joined Paul Monteiro of the White House Office of Public Engagement to share more about the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.
Community members, originating from various countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Ethiopia to name a few, also had the opportunity to have their blood pressure and BMI measured to assess their overall health risk. Healthy foods, like nuts, fresh fruit and a Mediterranean-inspired falafel dish, were offered. The day concluded with a Zumba class led by a Brazilian instructor who inspired more than 250 toddlers, teenagers, young and older adults, to shake, move and groove. Just as St. George slayed the dragon, Wellness Ambassadors Sam Shihadeh and Rose Fakhoury are doing their part in the fight against obesity.
Meanwhile, at the National Mall, our Deputy Director, Roxana Barillas, participated in the National Cinco de Mayo Festival ¡Salud en Cinco de Mayo! sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The event motivated thousands of people to get moving! Secretary Hilda Solis biked to the gathering to join the group in their attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Zumba Class.
USDA staff not only advocate for Let’s Move! professionally, but also personally. That same weekend, I participated in the Takoma Park Family Fun Run with my 7-year old daughter to bring attention to the Safe Routes to School Initiative, while Julie Curti, Assistant to the Director, biked 130 miles with her partner on the National Park Service’s Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park trail.