WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise visit today at Nickelodeon's annual Worldwide Day of Play (WWDOP) event, held for the first time ever this year in Washington, D.C., on the Ellipse. Nickelodeon estimates that upwards of 50,000 kids and families joined together for a full day of fun, entertainment and activities — with participation from more than 25 of Nick's live-action stars, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and superstar athletes such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Nickelodeon's WWDOP is the network's flagship celebration of active play, encouraging kids to get up, get out and go play.
The First Lady was on hand to participate in the day's activities and celebrate the success of the Million PALA Challenge, a joint initiative of Let's Move! and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN). Launched in September 2010, the Million PALA Challenge was created to motivate one million Americans to get active and earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) in a year. Since the start of the challenge, more than 1.7 million Americans have gotten active and earned their PALA, far exceeding the initiative's goal.
"I'm so proud of all the kids and families who rose to the challenge and got active this year," said First Lady Michelle Obama, who earned her PALA last fall. "The Million PALA Challenge helped shine a spotlight on the childhood obesity epidemic and I know we can all keep up the momentum and keep moving to help our kids lead healthy, active lives."
PALA is a long-standing PCFSN program that rewards youth who are active for 60 minutes a day and adults 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six out of eight weeks. Today, the First Lady also announced the launch of PALA+, a new and improved PALA that incorporates elements of MyPlate and is designed to motivate Americans to make physical activity and healthy eating part of their daily life.
Mrs. Obama also "turned off" Nickelodeon for three hours (12-3 p.m. ET/PT) today during WWDOP to encourage kids to go outside and play. Additionally, the First Lady made a surprise visit at the event, where she cheered kids on at the obstacle course and congratulated the 1.7 million Americans who achieved their PALA.
Additionally, the United State Senate passed a resolution Friday officially designating Saturday, Sept. 24, as the Worldwide Day of Play. The resolution (H.Res 410) was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The U.S. House of Representatives also introduced Sept. 24 as the Worldwide Day of Play in a resolution sponsored by Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) and co-sponsored by Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI). These resolutions are an acknowledgement of Nickelodeon's efforts to underscore the importance of health and wellness to the nation's –and the world's – kids and families.
Superstar athletes participating in the day were LeBron James (Miami Heat); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets); Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat); Olympic gold medalist and professional soccer star, Abby Wambach (magicJack); and NFL veteran, Damien Woody. Joining them were the Nickelodeon stars of iCarly (Jennette McCurdy, Nathan Kress, Noah Munck and Jerry Trainor); Victorious (Victoria Justice, Daniella Monet, Elizabeth Gillies, Ariana Grande, Avan Jogia, Leon Thomas III and Matt Bennett); Big Time Rush; Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP); the Fresh Beat Band; Supah Ninjas (Ryan Potter, Gracie Dzienny and Carlos Knight), Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures (Taylor Gray, Dillon Lane and Ashley Argota); the forthcoming live-action series, How to Rock (Cymphonique Miller and Max Schneider); and SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer.
More than fifty partner organizations, "Let's Move" and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition joined with Nickelodeon to host an entire day of physical activities and games for kids and their families to encourage active and healthy lifestyles. Additionally, as it has for the past seven years to commemorate WWDOP, Nickelodeon's networks and websites went dark from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (ET/PT) as a signal to kids and families to get up and get active.
Nickelodeon and its WWDOP partner organizations set up on the Ellipse, located in the National Park Service unit of President's Park just south of the White House. Starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET) and going through the day, they hosted a wide variety of activities, including baseball, soccer, dance, lacrosse, cheerleading, martial arts and entertainment, while offering audiences around the country live updates from D.C. In addition to supporting WWDOP on Sept. 24, the National Park Service celebrated National Public Lands Day on the Ellipse and at all 394 other national parks across the country by offering free admission that day.
Nickelodeon's TV networks and websites went off-air and offline from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (all times ET/PT) as a signal to kids and families nationwide to get up and get active. Before going off the air at noon, the network's live-action stars gave viewers special on-the-scene reports from the WWDOP event, highlighting the activities and sharing tips on maintaining healthy and active lifestyles. Nick resumed programming at 3 p.m. with live updates from the Worldwide Day of Play event in Washington. At 7:30 p.m., the network will air an evening of primetime premieres with an action-packed half-hour special, Worldwide Day of Play: Washington, D.C., featuring Nick's hit live-action stars, highlights from the day's activities and a special performance by Big Time Rush.
In addition to WWDOP anchored this year in Washington, D.C., there were more than 5,000 confirmed local WWDOP events that took place across the U.S.
WWDOP began in 2004 as a part of Nickelodeon's The Big Help initiative, a kid-led movement for positive change that focuses on four key issues: the environment, education, health and wellness, and community service. Through The Big Help health and wellness component, kids are encouraged to be more active for healthier lifestyles.
For more information about Nickelodeon's 8th annual Worldwide Day of Play, visit http://www.nickpress-worldwidedayofplay.com.
Nickelodeon, now in its 32nd year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 16 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).