- First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson
today kicked off "Healthy Steps to Albany: First Lady's Challenge," the competition she developed to teach children about health and wellness. The First Lady hosted the Earning Our First Steps Together pep rally at J.H.S. 13 Central Park East Middle School in her Harlem community. She was joined by star athletes, the Women's Sports Foundation, WBLS radio station, Dr. Richard Daines, Commissioner of the State Department of Health, educators, and community leaders to celebrate the program's launch.
"I am proud to kick off the Healthy Steps challenge and congratulate New York's students for taking their health into their own hands. We have the tools to build a healthy lifestyle and with this program, we can do it together, while also having fun!" First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson said. "The next six weeks of eating right and exercising are only the beginning. I urge all kids take advantage of every opportunity for exercise, and every healthy option on your plate. Do not let the Healthy Steps competition be your first and only effort to get fit, stay fit, and lead very long, active and healthy lives."
Healthy Steps is a six-week competition that encourages middle school students to increase their physical activity and eat wholesome foods. Each classroom works as a team and is awarded 'steps,' or points, for the amount of exercise they perform and the fruits and vegetables they eat. Students use the Healthy Steps website to convert various exercises and nutritious eating into steps. The teams track their progress on a map that highlights fun facts about New York State. The teams that log the most steps in each grade win the challenge. The program is open to every sixth, seventh, and eighth grade public school classroom in New York City
, as well as those in Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The First Lady kicked off the Earning Our First Steps Together pep rally with the J.H.S. 13 Central Park East students, rotating through a series of physical activity Rally Stations led by star athletes. The students participated in basketball drills with New York Liberty Legend Kym Hampton
and former New York Knicks
player and NBA
All-Star John Starks
; completed a fencing routine with three-time Olympic fencer Sharon Monplaisir
; worked on gymnastics moves with nine-time U.S. National Gymnast Wendy Hilliard
; and were introduced to luging by Olympian and U.S. National Champion Cameron Myler
. The students each earned approximately 1,500 steps for their Rally Station activities.
"I want to thank the special guests who joined me today in support of Healthy Steps, including the Women's Sports Foundation and our athletes: Kym Hampton, Wendy Hilliard, Sharon Monplaisir, and Cameron Myler; John Starks; WBLS and Doctor Bob Lee
. I also applaud our prize sponsors, MobileMatters, the New York Liberty and Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), as well as the school sponsors who have signed up to support our students. Your involvement is truly inspirational and sets a great example for our kids to follow."
The First Lady, Dr. Daines and the star athletes spoke to the students about Healthy Steps and the importance of exercise and a balanced diet. They also announced new contest prizes, including: text messages to all participating students from the celebrity athletes and other special guests to encourage the students throughout the six-week program, courtesy of MobileMatters; tickets for the top three teams to attend a WNBA New York Liberty game, courtesy of the New York Liberty and Kym Hampton; and brand new sneakers to the winning teams in each grade, courtesy of K.I.D.S.