Newark was abuzz with First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to the Maple Avenue School and gave the thumbs up for her Let’s Move! initiative, even if they didn’t know all the details about her program.
Bus driver June Williams, father of three, claims not to have any knowledge of what happens with his kids’ diets or exercise saying that he leaves that up to his wife as part of her domain. But he readily shares, ‘My kids look fantastic’. However, the burning question in his mind is, ‘Where are the recreational centers’ and places where kids can ‘run, hop and play’? He rolls off the hindrances to a child exercising outside the home, namely the presence of gangs in the area.
Annette, age 53, shares that she once had a weight problem but ‘took care of it’ with lap band surgery. She declares that her teen daughter doesn’t have a weight problem and said assuredly that she’s monitoring the situation. Annette admits that her daughter still eats junk food on occasion, but that it’s not excessive.
Margaret Perez, age 32, and mom of one teen son exclaims that her son is “skinny as it is” when she hears the diet part of the question but notes that she keeps him active. Her male companion jokingly called her a ‘health freak’ and readily offered that she buys a lot of the 100-calorie snack packs for her son and provided other good things for him. Perez says that she only keeps ‘healthy foods’ in her house and rolled off a list of her good food choices, noting that she even prepares things like ‘wheat spaghetti’ for some meals.
Donna, age 38, and mom of a 19-year-old son readily shares that ‘our children don’t eat right’. (Her own son is in pretty good shape.) She gives examples of kids looking much older than their age, noting ‘eight or nine years old and wearing grown women’s clothes’ because of excessive weight issues. Donna reflected on the loss of simple physical activities like ‘taking a child for a walk to the mall or riding the bike’, lamenting things families used to do that she said ‘were priceless, that cost no money at all’. She notes that when a parent gives a child $5, right away that child ‘(goes) to the store for a cold-cut sandwich’ and tells how parents will make concessions and eat fast food even when they ‘don’t want to do it.’ She says definitively that, ‘This is not good’. Donna recalls the days when there were established meal times: ‘breakfast at home or the school’, dinner where ‘fresh chicken was cut up…, fresh fruit and vegetables’. With these simple things lost, she believes this has contributed to excessive weight gain for the youth. Donna is hopeful that the First Lady could add some ‘enhancements’ for the parents to follow.