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.”
— Urban Pathways K5 CS (@UP_K5CS) October 5, 2016
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.
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.
“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.