Crowd at WPT kids’ event gets a welcome from the White House

By Dru Sefton

Michelle Obama is kicking off a special event hosted by Wisconsin Public Television this morning.

First lady Michelle Obama speaks to the audience in a video greeting at Wisconsin Public Television's PBS Kids Get Up and Go! Day.

First lady Michelle Obama speaks to the audience in a video greeting at Wisconsin Public Television’s PBS Kids Get Up and Go! Day.

Appearing in a pre-recorded video, the first lady is welcoming children and parents to the network’s 15th annual PBS Kids Get Up and Go! Day. The event promotes family-friendly ideas on how to stay active, healthy and enjoy the outdoors.

“Hi everyone! I’m so proud of all of you young people for joining in with Wisconsin PBS to get up and go,” Obama says in the 30-second greeting. Her own “Let’s Move!” initiative also encourages kids to be more physically active and eat healthy foods.

Garry Denny, WPT programming director, invited the first lady to appear through an acquaintance who met Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff and head of the White House Council on Women and Girls, through the public media campaign Women and Girls Lead, sponsored by CPB and Independent Television Service. Denny worked that connection to approach the White House staff about participating in the WPT event, describing it as “a perfect match” with Obama’s fitness and nutrition initiative. Hannah August, the first lady’s press secretary, helped coordinate the request.

Denny received an email from August last week confirming that Obama would tape the spot on July 29. Although Denny had provided a 30-second script, the first lady “hit all our points but made it her own,” he said. The HD video was produced at the White House and sent to WPT through a secure ftp site.

Obama’s video message is just one highlight of the special event, which has grown from a small open house inside the station to a full morning of outdoor activities at the Kohl Center, a large arena and athletic center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and six libraries statewide. PBS Kids morning personality Mr. Steve will appear at the Kohl Center, along with animals from a local zoo, a fire truck and face painters; there’ll also be exhibits, activities, food and entertainment. WPT will produced a live, two-hour broadcast of the Kohl Center event from 10 a.m. to noon Central Time.

Last year some 3,000 participants showed up. This year, Denny said, WPT is expecting 5,000.

Obama’s video will run several times on the air during the two-hour show, Denny said, and will be posted on the network’s social media sites.

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