Arne Duncan, Phylicia Rashad and Murphy Jensen
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Pre-school and elementary school students were encouraged to "Read, Exercise, and Eat Right" at an event in D.C. featuring actress and singer Phylicia Rashad, the Washington Kastles, early childhood specialist Kofi Dennis and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Wednesday.
Dennis, who is a performer with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, helped start the Let's Read! Let's Move! event at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in D.C. with an interactive storytelling experience.
The children from Lincoln Charter School, St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School, Maret School, Summit Hall Elementary School, The Campagna Center, and FAA/DOT Child Development Center then got to ask Rashad and Kastles coach Murphy Jensen questions. Rashad told one student with a question about talking animals that just because animals don't speak English we shouldn't assume that they don't talk at all. She did so with the same grace and wit many of us enjoyed about her character Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Jensen playfully asked the students to guess where each member of the Kastles was from, congratulating children for guessing where Anastasia Rodionova was from (Tambov, "Russia" but she lives in Australia) and joking that Bobby Reynolds was "from outer space" (he's from Acworth, Ga.).
With the reading done, students split into groups to head outside where the Department of Education plaza had been turned into tennis courts. On the four courts, the children, some barely bigger than a tennis racket, got to play some tennis with the Washington Kastles. Martina Hingis helped kids with their serve as they "faced off against" Rashad and a Kastles team member. Jensen was the same energetic man Kastles fans have come to know: he could be seen traveling from court to court, signing autographs and rejoicing with a congratulatory yell for the children as they practiced their tennis skills.
Children who weren't playing tennis could participate in other activities, including the Shopping Cart Nutrition Race and Jumbo Jam Basketball.
Children could take a short break and cool down at the vegetable and fruit tasting station, which was located next to the courts. They enjoyed healthy snacks like watermelon. After all, the Let's Read! Let's Move enrichment serious provides information about healthy and affordable food in addition to encouraging children to exercise and read this summer. Each child was also able to pick a free book to take home to encourage them to read.
Wednesday's event was the second of five events in the Department of Education's Let's Read! Let's Move series. Olympic figure skater and member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Michelle Kwan kicked off the series on July 12. Other events are planned for July 24, August 1 and August 6.