First Lady tours Waianae farm

Published: Nov. 12, 2011 at 9:35 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2011 at 9:47 PM HST
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By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Michelle Obama talked about her fight against childhood obesity and joked with students as she visited MA'O Organic Farms Saturday.

It was the first of the first lady's events during her APEC visit with President Obama. She said the visit was an opportunity to showcase education, especially when it comes to what we eat.

She was quick to put everyone at ease, even taking her turn as students at a round table discussion introduced themselves. Some of the students gave their age. Mrs. Obama followed suit.

"I'm Michelle Obama," she said, smiling broadly as the audience applauded. "I'm 48 years old," drawing laughter. "And I'm honored to be here. I've heard about all that's been going on here for years and years."

Mrs. Obama also toured a part of MA'O farms, where interns work under the Kauhale Youth Education and Entrepreneurship Initiative, learning about farming and more.

Those interns got to hear from the first lady, first hand.

"I jumped at the opportunity to come and not just see for myself, but to also allow the world to see what you all are doing," she told the gathering.

Attitudes toward food and food security were among the issues that were at the discussion table.

"Nowadays we have this mental block, like, oh, we gotta grow food to survive," Kauhale graduate Cheryse Sana told the first lady. "Back then, it was to every ancestor, all of our ancestors, that we gotta grow food for just grow food. It's just common sense."

Sana, 22, also was among the students who guided Mrs. Obama as she toured the farm. Sana said it was positive to have the first lady visit the Leeward Oahu area.

"There's so many opportunities going on in Waianae, and I'm just so happy to have her have seen that, and she came out here, and it was a blessing and an opportunity," Sana said.

It also was an opportunity for Sana to tell her story, of how Kauhale helped her grow out of being a shy high school. In turn, it was a opportunity for the first lady to give a lesson in being patient.

"Now, what if you had given up after the first year when you hadn't changed right away?" Mrs. Obama asked Sana. "You were still shy, you were still a little hesitant, you were still a little nervous, a little insecure. But you stuck with this initiative, and now you can't shut up," she told Sana. Everyone burst into laughter.

Mrs. Obama didn't appear to want to leave the event. Sana wanted to ask a final question when a member of the White House staff signaled that it was time to wrap up. "We got time. Go ahead," she said, to laughter.

"Uh oh. I'm getting the stink eye," she then said, eliciting even louder laughs. "Ask it quick before I get in trouble."

The first lady concluded by urging the students to think big and to be patient, because ending childhood obesity is a goal that will take at last a generation to reach.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.