What Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign taught her
When President Obama first came into office and Ellie read that Michelle Obama was planting the garden, she was so inspired that she sent her a letter. "I literally felt like I was sending it to Santa Claus," Ellie remembers. "You just feel like you are writing to the North Pole. I wrote her a letter saying I was so inspired by her and if I could ever be of service in this effort, feel free to reach out to me."
Michelle Obama's press secretary contacted Ellie inviting her to be part of the nutrition education aspect of Mrs. Obama's campaign. "At that time, she announced the Let’s Move program, and she announced something called the HealthierUS School Challenge. Listening to this -- my daughter was in public school at the time -- I was thinking, 'Why aren’t we doing this with our school?'" Ellie then reached out for support at her daughter's school, and managed to make an impact on the health of its students. Two years later, the school became the only New York City school to win the HealthierUS School Challenge award.
Ellie says it was very exciting, and quite an education for her. "It is one [thing] to be in the public eye in a public forum, being a leader, doing this and rallying people to make changes in their communities," she says. "Then there is the other side of it, of being in the school and cutting cauliflower for 700 kids and trying to get parent volunteers to be there on time. I think understanding it from both sides of the equation has been a really great education for me [in terms of] what it takes to really do this."
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