Beyond IX: The mover and shaker

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Long before a female athlete can take advantage of Title IX, she has to get on her feet first. As the First Lady explains here, that's where her Let's Move program, designed to combat childhood obesity, comes in.

When I think about Title IX, I think about my daughters and what it means for all our daughters to be able to compete and win on America's playing fields just like our sons.

No matter what sports my girls have played -- basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming or anything else -- they've learned lessons and built confidence in ways that amaze me every day. They've learned about competition, teamwork and winning and losing with grace. They've learned that it's OK to be aggressive and sweat and get their hands dirty. They've learned how to develop a skill and stick with it even when it's hard, and they've felt the satisfaction that comes with personal improvement. Along the way, they've gained confidence, gotten in shape and made lifelong friends. And all of this is true for millions of women and girls all across this country.

So for 40 years, the legacy of Title IX has extended well beyond the playing field. It shapes how America's girls see themselves today and encourages them to dream about the women they can become tomorrow. And it's helped so many women and girls get active and develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

That is the very same vision at the core of our Let's Move initiative, a nationwide effort to combat our childhood obesity crisis so that all our kids can grow up healthy. We're working to help kids and families across America get access to fresh, nutritious food and find more ways to get active. We make it a point to emphasize that this initiative isn't about how our young people look; it's about how they feel and how they feel about themselves. And we know that sports can play a definitive role not just in their physical health but also in developing that sense of positive self-identity.

That's why we've held youth clinics with everyone from the U.S. women's soccer team to the Chicago Blackhawks to the Connecticut Huskies. We've worked with the NFL, NBA, WNBA and MLB, MLS and the U.S. Tennis Association to help kids across the country learn new sports right in their own communities. And this summer, when I lead the presidential delegation to the Olympic Games in London, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to encourage young people to be active and strive to be their best.

Because when a young girl sees Maya Moore or Alex Morgan or anyone else in the red, white and blue going for the gold, we want her to picture herself on that playing field. We want her to dream a little bit bigger and push herself a little bit harder in her own life. And that's not just good for the future of sports here in America; it's good for the future of our entire country. When girls learn to push themselves in athletics, those lessons spill over into every area of their lives. That means they'll know how to push themselves in school and in their extracurricular activities. It means they'll know how to push themselves in their careers and at home, becoming better scientists, lawyers and business leaders; better daughters and mothers; better Little League coaches and Girl Scout troop leaders.

So when we talk about equality in athletics and expanding opportunities for young girls, we're talking about lifting up America. We're talking about giving everyone a shot to pursue their dreams. That is the story of Title IX, and it's something we all can be proud of. And that's why, when I think about the next 40 years, I can't help but be hopeful about what lies ahead for my daughters and for all our daughters and sons.

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