New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Dominique Dawes, a three-time Olympian and former U.S. national
champion in gymnastics, will co-chair the reconfigured President's
Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Formerly known as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and
Sports, the revised council is adding a new focus on Obama's signature
issue: childhood nutrition.
Other members of the council include NBA all-star Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi and track star Allyson Felix.
The President's Council was established more than 50 years ago as a way to motivate American youth to get off the couch, put on their sneakers and get some exercise. For five decades, the President's Challenge has been the most visible manifestation of the council, administered by schools to measure students' fitness ability and reward high achievers with a commendation from the White House.
Michelle Obama noted that the original mission of the fitness council was to encourage young people to exercise, but she said nowadays that needs to be combined with healthy eating too.
“It's about learning about all the different ways to eat healthy and to strike those balances and to be active — whether that means playing a sport, which many kids do,” she said. “But not every kid is an athlete and they don't have to be … because you can get the exercise you need from walking your dog vigorously, running with your dog, doing some push-ups at home or just playing.”
About 25,000 schools across the nation participate in the council's fitness program and, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, about a quarter of elementary, middle and high schools nationwide require or recommend the president's challenge fitness test.
The chair and vice chair positions have been vacant for more than a year and a half.
In recent years, the top positions on the president's fitness council were held by notable athletes including track star Florence Griffith Joyner, former Pittsburgh Steelers great Lynn Swann and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a seven-time Mr. Olympia bodybuilding champion.