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Gimme Five: Charlene Burgeson


Charlene joined Partnership for a Heathier America (PHA) as executive director of Let’s Move! Active Schools in February of 2015. Through a national collaboration of health and education organizations, Let’s Move! Active Schools is working to ensure 60 minutes of physical activity is the new norm in K-12 schools, enabling children to reach their fullest potential both in and outside of the classroom.

Name: Charlene Burgeson
Title: Executive Director
Organization: Let’s Move! Active Schools, Partnership for a Healthier America

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

I have always loved being physically active, and since my teen years as a YMCA Junior Leader, I have been passionate about helping others experience the joy of movement. My career started as a physical education teacher and coach, and my work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was grounded in childhood obesity prevention.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

My 25-year career has been about the intersection of health and education. In my current role as executive director of Let’s Move! Active Schools, I am working with national health, education and private sector organizations to equip and empower K-12 schools to increase physical activity and physical education opportunities for children. Together, we are on a mission to cultivate “Active Schools” where physical activity is incorporated for at least 60 minutes before, during and after the school day.

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping to reduce childhood obesity?

Well, I don’t know about biggest, but I’m very proud of my current role and its ability to shape a healthier future for millions of children across the country. And, it speaks to the saying that life comes full circle. At the time the First Lady announced her Let’s Move! campaign in 2010, I was executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). I saw it as an opportunity to bring more attention to the physical activity part of the equation by increasing collaboration among the many organizations committed to physically active, healthy kids. So I started Let’s Move in School and signed-on 100+ partners. Let’s Move in School became the precursor to Let’s Move! Active Schools.

Who is your role model in your work?

The 20 (and growing) Let’s Move! Active Schools supporting organizations are my role models and inspiration. They truly believe that Active Kids Do Better and live it by providing resources, tools, grants and professional development to create Active Schools. These health, education and private sector organizations are employing the power of collective impact to solve the problems of inadequate physical activity/physical education in schools and childhood obesity.

What game or sport did you play growing up?

The short answer is almost all of them. However, springboard diving became my passion. I was a competitive diver for the local Y and then throughout high school and college. Now I love coaching the sport!

Each week, our own Allyson Frazier speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Allyson’s profile and contact her.