USA Hockey’s Caitlin Cahow Shines Spotlight on School-Based Physical Activity

By: Caitlin Cahow, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition member and two-time Olympian, U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey

According to the latest research, healthy students are better learners. Across America, schools play an important role in shaping students’ attitudes about healthy eating and physical activity.

As a member of the President’s Council, I see a great opportunity to help our nation’s schools prioritize student health and well-being by weaving it into the fabric of the educational experience. Now, of course, that is easier said than done. Last week, my fellow Council members and I met with national youth ambassadors, superintendents and chancellors, as well as leading researchers at the White House to discuss ways to inspire school administrators, parents and students to take action.

Addressing the health crisis that is childhood obesity is critical. The time to act is now. Since kids spend the majority of their waking hours in school during the academic year, we agreed to start there and address school nutrition and Let’s Move!’s school-based physical activity program, Let’s Move! Active Schools  

The events kicked off around lunchtime when the President’s Council was joined by youth ambassadors from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Fuel Up to Play 60 as well as Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass. We talked about how food can impact performance in the classroom, on the field, and in life. I shared how I #EatSmart to achieve my goals not only on the ice, but also in school, in my law career and in my service to the community.

During the discussion, we also heard from the youth why nutritious eating is important to them and what they are doing in their schools to motivate fellow students to make the healthy choice. We were all inspired by the passion and drive of the next generation to confront the challenges faced by all Americans to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Following the nutrition roundtable, we transitioned to physical activity. In partnership with The School Superintendents Association, the President’s Council hosted over 30 superintendents from across the country to strategize about how we can create healthier school environments. Much of the conversation focused on the simple concept that Active Kids Do Better. They do better in the classroom. They do better on the field. They do better in life. Conveying this message to school and district leaders is fundamental to changing the culture and shifting the mindset about how students can improve academic performance.

Throughout our meeting, we discussed solutions and unveiled resources available through the Let’s Move! Active Schools website. These resources will help ensure that schools districts, large and small, can provide opportunities for all students to be physically active before, during and after the school day.  

After speaking with the students and superintendents, I believe we have the opportunity and the obligation to empower our youth to reach their full potential, and schools without question play a substantial role. All of us at the President’s Council, alongside key partners within and outside of government, are committed to continuing our work with schools and districts across the country because it is our responsibility to ensure that youth of all backgrounds and abilities have opportunities to eat healthy and be active where they live, learn and play.  

Now, I challenge you to healthier school environments by ensuring that your child’s school or a school in your community is enrolled in Let’s Move! Active Schools. For more information about Let’s Move! Active Schools, visit and remember to #EatSmart too.

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Becoming an Active Schools Champion is a way to make a difference in the health and education of the next generation. It’s how we bring health equity to schools. It’s how we start a movement.