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Elementary Students In D.C. For FLOTUS’ ‘Let’s Move’ Garden Party

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Urban Pathways College Charter School elementary students and teachers gathered in their cafeteria Wednesday morning to send off two of their own selected to participate in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Garden Party.

The students, 10-year-old 5th grader Bruce Allen and 9-year-old 4th grader Lemiah Cross, were chosen for their leadership and grades, according to UPCS yoga and PE instructor Linda Williams.

“They did journaling, they participated in the program in a successful way, they were mentors for their peers,” Williams said. “And all of those things were taken into account.”


Cross, who lives in the North Side, said she’s looking forward to the experience.

“I’m most excited about just going to the White House and seeing Mrs. Obama,” Cross said.

Both students got high fives and cheers from their peers, as different organizers talked about healthy eating and physical activity.

The local chapter of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move initiative has been in place since 2011, when Phipps Conservatory signed up as a Museum and Garden participant. Mary Kathryn Poole, program director for Let’s Move Pittsburgh at Phipps, said even after the Obama leave the White House, the First Lady’s campaign will still exist.

“Let’s Move Pittsburgh is here to stay,” Poole said.

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Lemiah Cross, 9, of the North Side, laughs with Bruce Allen, 10, of Garfield at a send-off rally held in their honor. Both students were chosen based on their leadership and devotion to an active lifestyle.

As the students wiggled and waved signs of support for Cross and Allen, Poole and her Let’s Move program assistants asked the students to name their favorite fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers received the loudly unfavorable moan, while blueberries seemed to be a crowd favorite.

Let’s Move Pittsburgh has been awarding Champion School grants to elementary schools and early learning centers for the past three years. Poole said UPCS has received a grant each year and recently put the funds toward a healthy smoothie program called Nutribullet University.

“We’ve made great efforts to increase nutrition and physical activity at their school,” Poole said.

Kimberly Fitzgerald, the principal of UPCS, said she hopes Cross and Allen serve as examples for their peers.

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
An Urban Pathways Charter School student raises her hand as Let's Move Pittsburgh leaders ask the crowd about their favorite fruits and vegetables. The school participates in the Nutribullet University program, which gives students the opportunity to make fresh smoothies each day.

“They absolutely need an opportunity be rewarded and to really just push each other on,” Fitzgerald said. “You see how everyone’s really pumped about them going and looking forward to them coming back and sharing with us their experiences.”

Cross and Allen departed for Washington D.C. on Wednesday afternoon and will return on Friday, Oct. 7. A live stream of the Garden Party is available online.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm
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