Phoenix chosen as ‘priority city’ in Michelle Obama’s new Let’s Move! Outside program

The U.S. Department of Interior has chosen Phoenix as one of its first 50 “priority cities” for first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative.

Officials and community leaders made the announcement Saturday at Phoenix’s Margaret T. Hance Park.

The initiative is an extension of the Let’s Move campaign Obama started in 2010, and this one is aimed at encouraging kids nationwide to be more involved in outdoor activities.

“We want to identify 50 priority cities across the country and invest in them,” said David Jayo, senior advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “(We want to) reinforce collaboration, coordination and in the end just more awareness and participation in outdoor programs that get kids to play, learn, serve and work outside.”

One of the first companies to help jump start the program is American Express, which donated $5 million.

The new program will partner with organizations such as the YMCA and Arizona Conservation Corps.

“We have 41,000 acres of opportunity, 41,000 acres of parks here at the city of Phoenix,” Mayor Greg Stanton said.

Officials chose priority cities based on three criteria: Does the city have great outdoor spaces? Does the city have a strong nonprofit network? And does the city have strong leaders in local government who believe and understand the value of public spaces and the next generation of leaders?