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By Charly Haley, chaley@forumcomm.com, Published March 08 2013

Fargo man attends national ‘Let’s Move’ kickoff event

FARGO – When first lady Michelle Obama told the country “let’s move,” people listened, including local groups that serve schools in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead.

The White House recently released its Let’s Move Active Schools program at a celebration in Chicago. Brad Strand, of Fargo, attended the event as a past president of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Obama started her Let’s Move campaign to encourage physical activity across the nation. Shortly after, AAHPERD started its national Let’s Move In Schools campaign, which is what was adopted by the White House as Let’s Move Active Schools.

“Our ‘Let’s Move’ was very successful,” said Strand, who is also a health, nutrition and exercises professor at North Dakota State University.

Obama’s Let’s Move campaign works with schools and provides grants and collects information on the child obesity epidemic to encourage people across the U.S. to stay active.

An estimated 100 guests were at the celebration Strand attended in Chicago, he said. There were also about 6,000 children, and celebrities such as Bo Jackson, Serena Williams and Jordin Sparks.

“It was a huge celebration, lots of excitement,” Strand said.

The first lady was active the entire time and danced around with the children, he said. The president of Nike, one of the national program’s primary funders, also spoke.

The alliance’s Let’s Move In Schools program inspired a local initiative last fall called Schools Alive, Strand said. Before that, Fargo-Moorhead area schools had little involvement with Let’s Move.

With the White House adopting Let’s Move Active Schools, organizers of Schools Alive hope more attention will be drawn to the issue of child exercise and local schools will work to get involved. Strand said he doesn’t know of any changes that would be made to Schools Alive as a result of the White House program.

Schools Alive now trains classroom teachers and recess supervisors at the local schools on how to implement physical activity programs, said Jenny Linker, a colleague of Strand’s at NDSU and one of Schools Alive’s organizers.

The group has also worked with after-school programs at the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA.

“We’ve primarily been servicing the West Fargo School District because they’ve shown the most interest,” Linker said.

Schools Alive has also sent students from NDSU, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College to Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead schools to provide a free evaluation of the students’ physical activity.

West Fargo Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis said the district is pleased with Schools Alive’s work.

“The instructors have provided high-quality training,” she said.

For more information on Let’s Move Active Schools, visit www.letsmoveschools.org.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311