CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — For a few minutes Friday, first lady Michelle Obama turned the hardwood floor at the Time Warner Arena into an elementary school gym.

Obama was in North Carolina for two Democratic Party events in Raleigh and Charlotte.

But before those fundraisers, she promoted the “Let’s Move!” fitness program with children from two Charlotte elementary schools. It took place after the first women’s basketball game at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournament.

Obama walked to midcourt and addressed the crowd about her national anti-obesity campaign. She touted basketball as a way to keep active.

“We need them to be the next generation to handle challenges,” she said.

She promised she wouldn’t talk long because “we’re going to be moving around.”

“There’s no better way than basketball to illustrate the point (of staying healthy.) We are a basketball family and my husband is a crazy fanatic about basketball,” she said.

Obama and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., then took part as students from two Charlotte elementary schools competed in a relay. After the students ran the length of the court and jumped rope, Obama and Hagan tossed them basketballs so they could take shots. Afterward, Obama hugged some of the children to cheers from the crowd attending the conference tournament.

The first lady’s event took place in the arena where the Democratic National Convention will be held in early September.

The CIAA is celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year. The state is home to eight of the 12 colleges in the conference.

North Carolina is a crucial state in President Barack Obama’s re-election strategy. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden visited Davidson County Community College, and the president is visiting Charlotte on Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


Mitch Weiss

Associated Press Writer