Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a nationwide campaign to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity—a topic we heard a great deal about during M2W®-HC™ as brands, healthcare professionals and medical organizations look for new ways to help moms keep their families healthy.  The ‘Let’s Move’ initiative encourages community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads to get kids moving in hopes of solving the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.

During last year’s M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference, we heard a similar story from Jaime Berman Matyas, EVP and COO of National Wildlife Federation (who was also a Hospitality Sponsor for M2Moms®), as she gave details about NWF’s ‘Be Out There’ program, a program that not only believes in getting kids to move, but getting them outside.

As experts in getting their brand to identify with Mom’s need to keep her children healthy and active, we asked Rebecca Garland, executive director of ‘Be Out There’, to give us her take on the new nationwide initiative and what that means for her brand as well as others.

Q:  What are your thoughts about this new national initiative?

A: National Wildlife Federation fully supports ‘Let’s Move’ and believes that unstructured outdoor play should be an integral part of the First Lady’s initiative. Children who play outdoors are more active and burn more calories. We believe it’s time parents took advantage of an old-fashioned, low-cost remedy to our children’s obesity problem. Fling open the back door and let kids do what comes naturally: run around in green spaces and make friends with nature. Leave those unwanted pounds behind a tree, in a stick fort or under a slimy rock at the local park.

Q: Do you plan on partnering with the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign in any way?

A: NWF is eager to support the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign and, through our ‘Be Out There’ initiative, has developed tools for parents to promote a healthier lifestyle and activities to get kids moving outdoors. NWF is in discussions with the First Lady’s Office to explore partnership opportunities.

Q: In addition to helping fight childhood obesity, what are the other benefits of having families get outside and move?

A: Kids who spend regular time outside have fitter bodies, better eyesight, less stress, depression and hyperactivity, longer attention spans and better grades. Check here to see all of the health benefits and research.  Plus, time spent outdoors awakens all of the senses and offers opportunities for families to connect and create lasting memories.

Q:  What are you working on now with NWF and ‘Be Out There?’

A: Getting kids back outside is an important societal issue that affects children of all races and socio-economic levels throughout America. The ‘Be Out There’ campaign brings together the full array of awareness, grassroots organizing and behavior change elements to make a national impact. Highlights of our current activities include:

  • Hosting national events such as National Wildlife Week (March 15-21) and The Great American Backyard Campout (June 26)
  • Actively promote ‘Be Out There’ messages across all forms of media
  • Expand and place PSAs that enlist influential & credible spokespeople
  • Continue to work with Congress and state legislatures to pass laws and regulations that provide money and programs that get kids outdoors
  • Calling on Secretary of Health and Human Services to include outdoor physical activity in CDC’s state obesity action plans and to increase outdoor play time at Head Start Centers.
  • Providing families, schools and communities with tools they need such as NWF programs Schoolyard Habitats® and Trees for the 21st Century and a rich portfolio of online resources like outdoor playing tips and activities, directory of parks and trails, guides to plant and animal life and e-newsletters/online publications that help families enjoy connecting with nature.

The national focus is certain to keep the topic front and center and at the heart of our healthcare debates.  In what ways are you seeing brands helping women keep their children healthy?