Michelle Obama addressing Unity staff and clients.  In the lower left is Jessica Wallace- program coordinator for We Can. Top left- a photo I took during one of our classes. Photo by Unity.

Michelle Obama addressing Unity staff and clients. In the lower left is Jessica Wallace- program coordinator for We Can. Top left- a photo I took during one of our classes. Photo by Unity.

Michelle Obama- the first place you visited in DC was a health center, then you planted an organic garden on the White House lawn, to top things off you appeared on my favorite childhood show, Sesame Street, to deliver a public health message.

I wondered how you could make me happier.

Well- now you’ve done it. On June 29 Mrs. Obama came to Upper Cardozo Health Center, a FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) filled with dedicated professionals devoted to serving DC residents, especially the Latino population.

Here she announced FQHCs like Upper Cardozo would receive $851 million to “address immediate and pressing health center facility and equipment needs and increase access to health care for millions of Americans.”

Upper Cardozo alone will receive $2.5 million to build 20 (much needed) exam rooms to reach %24 more patients. Currently Upper Cardozo’s staff provide a phenomenal level of care in a very cramped space in Columbia Heights.

Michelle also learned about Upper Cardozo’s “We Can” program, the intervention I’ve been assisting with under the direction of project coordinator and physician assistant Jessica Wallace.

We Can” is a public health program developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that incorporates the entire family in reducing childhood obesity. Two of the women in the photo are program participants.

At Upper Cardozo’s “We Can” program we provide weekly classes where families learn to change to healthier habits, such as:

  • Restricting soda intake
  • Switching from whole milk to skim
  • Enjoying a minimum of one hour of physical activity a day
  • Portion control
  • Limiting “screen time” to one hour a day

At class families enjoy healthy snacks, take part in fun activities like Capoeira, and learn about healthy living. Nurses help participants track their blood pressure, BMI, and weight through the sessions.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Ms Wallace and the other Upper Cardozo staff, the program has continued to increase in participation and popularity.

Childhood obesity is one of Michelle’s issues has been taking on while in the White House.  Although I wasn’t there for her visit, those in attendance at the meeting enjoyed her warm presence. One of the programs youth participants, Christian, even received a hug from Mrs. Obama for his 15th birthday.

In the field of public health we are often fighting an uphill battle.  The “We Can” program provides a positive atmosphere for addressing and combating the childhood obseity epidemic. The stimulus bill includes one billion for programs addressing prevention and wellness. Mrs. Obama’s visit further energized the dedicated participants and staff who support “We Can.”

Thank you Mrs. Obama for thinking locally and taking the time to see the great work going on at DC’s Upper Cardozo Health Center!  Hope to see you at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new exam rooms!

For More Information:

Learn how the stimulus will be used for health centers here

Fun and interesting blog on the “Obama Foodscape” here

Read the White House press release here

Read the First Lady’s remarks here

See more photos from the special day here

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