First Lady Michelle Obama celebrates health and wellness efforts at Burgess-Peterson Academy

First Lady Michelle Obama marked the first anniversary of her Let’s Move initiative with a visit to Burgess-Peterson Academy on Wednesday afternoon. The school is one of the leaders in Atlanta Public Schools when it comes to health, wellness and nutrition efforts thanks to hard work among faculty, staff, students, parents and its network of community partners. (Check out a mini-photo gallery above, or the big one here.)

Principal Robin Robbins led the first lady on a tour of the school, which included a visit to Megan Kiser‘s second-grade class, munching on blueberries — the snack of the day. Students and master gardeners Adam Waterson and Michelle Rice — just some of the school’s community partners — took her on a tour of the outdoor garden the school built with support from Georgia Organics. “Coach” Betty Jackson, the school’s physical education instructor, has been instrumental in helping lead these efforts, and was excited about the visit.

“I’m honored,” Jackson said. “It’s exciting she knows about me and Burgess-Peterson Academy,” added Jackson, who also works at Parkside Elementary, told the AJC. “It says what I’m doing for the children is actually working.”

The first lady’s Let’s Move initiative helps combat childhood obesity, which is a particular concern in Georgia, which acoording to the Trust for America’s Health suffers from the second-worst childhood obesity rate.

The school provides a number of wellness efforts, from the nutritional outdoor garden to the nearby outdoor classroom begun last fall. There’s also participation in the federal government’s Farm to School program that promotes the idea of eating locally grown food. The school begins the day with a “Jammin’ Minute” to get the blood flowing, and recruits Student Wellness Ambassadors to spread the good word on health and wellness. The school works with master gardeners as well as local chefs from the Rolling Bones restaurant. (See story here on the anti-obesity event with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2009.)

“It’s just a historical moment for the students,” said Robbins said of the visit. “Just the students seeing her out here to connect what we’ve been talking about with healthy eating, and for her to continue to emphasize that with the students. Every classroom she went into, she talked to them about healthy eating, about the healthy choices to make. It’s OK to turn down a bag of potato chips for an orange. One of the things that I will continue to capitalize on is to tell the students that, our first lady says it’s important to eat healthy. And just to connect that with Obama’s wife is saying it’s healthy to eat fresh fruit every day. And so we’re going to use that as our platform.”

Even before some of these accomplishments, the school was honored with a bronze medal from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The event was attended by APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall and School Reform Team 3 Executive Director Dr. Robin Hall, as well as Mayor Kasim Reed and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. The visit by the first lady captivated Atlanta, with media coverage by the AJC, WXIA (11Alive), WAGA (Fox5) and the Associated Press, as well as APS’ communications team of Media Relations Director Keith Bromery and Media Production Manager Scott King. Following the visit to Burgess-Peterson, the first lady visited North Point Community Church in Alpharetta.

Check out previous coverage here including a tour of the outdoor classroom by Betty Jackson. Here’s another feature about their start of the school year.

12 thoughts on “First Lady Michelle Obama celebrates health and wellness efforts at Burgess-Peterson Academy

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  1. Great job BPA and COACH!! Not sure if the First Lady saw the fruit tree orchard out back but it was the first in APS…now nearly a year later more than 5 are growing. BPA is an inspiring model for a healthy school!

  2. I loved when First Lady came to my school. Mrs. Obama, encouraged us to stay healthy.

  3. What a wonderful experience for the children. Keep up the good work Burgess-Peterson and Coach Jackson…..Stay Healthy!

  4. What a marvelous job! Greetings from Thomasville Heights Elementary School where Charles Penn is my Principal.Keep up the good work!

  5. Great job Coach Jackson! Your family at Parkside is sooooo very proud of you and all that you do for our APS children. Stay on the move and keep doing what you are doing.

  6. I am so proud of Principal Robbins’ leadership and the buy-in and engagement of all of the B-P stakeholders in this whole child initiative. Kudos to all!

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