MLS W.O.R.K.S., Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, has joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to eliminate childhood obesity in one generation and commits to getting more children active, playing or moving for 60 minutes a day.

Today, Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, will unveil a nationwide campaign to address the serious epidemic of childhood obesity. For the first time ever, the First Lady has set a national goal of solving the obesity challenge within a generation, so that America’s youngest children reach adulthood at a healthy weight.

D.C. United President and CEO Kevin Payne will represent MLS W.O.R.K.S. at today’s event launching the First Lady’s initiative.

“MLS W.O.R.K.S. will support the First Lady and the White House by expanding our existing programs and creatively developing new ideas to help fight childhood obesity,” said JoAnn Neale, MLS executive vice president. “Soccer is the perfect sport to keep children active and fit. We are committed to this campaign and will work with our clubs at the grassroots level to increase the accessibility of soccer, support local youth programs and create play spaces to encourage children to engage in physical activity. ”

MLS W.O.R.K.S. Initiatives

Active Bodies Active Minds (ABAM) reading and fitness program is a soccer-centered community outreach initiative that provides reading and fitness resources to motivate and reward children for being mentally and physically fit. MLS W.O.R.K.S. has partnered with the creators of the award-winning, best-selling Summer Bridge Activities™ workbook series (published by Carson-Dellosa Publishing, LLC.) to educate children, parents and teachers about the importance of mental and physical fitness, which will lead to better overall academic performances and increased playtime.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. partnered with adidas and FieldTurf to build soccer fields in underprivileged neighborhoods as part of the Footprint Fields program. Footprint Fields, which was launched in July 2009, awarded nine (9) grants to charitable organizations in Huntington Park, CA, Columbus, OH, Chicago, IL, Gorham, ME, Saint Paul, MN, Albany, NY, Greenville, SC and Houston, TX. The grants will help fund the construction of synthetic fields that provide a safe environment for soccer and other physical fitness programming.

Physical Activity

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children get 60 minutes/one hour a day of active play to stay healthy – a goal that may appear daunting but is doable, even for busy American families. Through public-private partnerships, and reforms of existing federal programs, the Obama Administration will support initiatives to increase the time children participate in active play, both inside and outside of school.

This campaign will unite and inspire families from every corner of the United States to take real and sustained actions to eat better, be more active, and make a commitment to embracing healthier lifestyles.

Since 1980, the percentage of children who are obese has doubled and the percentage of obese adults has tripled, increasing the number of years that they are exposed to the health risks of obesity, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several major cancers. Today, nearly one third of all children in America are now obese or overweight.

To meet the national goal, the First Lady will reach out to parents and teachers, and mobilize action and assistance across the federal government, in partnership with governors and mayors, the medical community, leading foundations and the sports and business communities, to support common sense, innovative tools and solutions to empower families and communities to make healthy decisions for their kids.

To learn more or to obtain additional information, please visit

About MLS W.O.R.K.S.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. is Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative dedicated to addressing important social issues affecting young people and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs.  MLS W.O.R.K.S. seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. For more information visit the website at

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