Screams of delight for Michelle Obama in Mexico

Published April 14, 2010

MEXICO CITY – Michelle Obama stepped from her black SUV and into a sea of screams, cheers and squeals of delight that filled the sun-splashed courtyard of a public elementary school Wednesday in Mexico's capital.

Dozens of 6- to 12-year-old students — some in costumes, others in gym clothes — welcomed America's first lady with a show.

One group dressed as Aztecs in white paper costumes and caps with multicolored feathers performed a Mexican ritual dance. Another group did calisthenics for Mrs. Obama, whose cause at home is a campaign against childhood obesity. Other kids entertained with a lively twist-style dance, and they were followed by a chorus that serenaded her.

Mrs. Obama joined in at one point, clasping hands with a group that had formed a circle and singing along with students at the Escuela Siete de Enero, which is in one of Mexico City's poorer neighborhoods.

"That was beautiful, everything you did," said the first lady, whose two-day visit is her first ever to Mexico. "I loved the singing. I loved the dancing. I loved to see you all moving and exercising."

She said she loves "getting to see really smart, bright young people" when she leaves the U.S.

There was one small request, though. "Before I leave, I need some hugs," Mrs. Obama said. Wading into one of the groups, the tall first lady bent at the waist to embrace the kids.

As she hugged the pint-sized performers, students packed into balconies above began chanting in Spanish for her to "Come up! Come up!" She didn't make it.

Mrs. Obama is visiting Mexico to launch an international effort to engage young people and inspire them to become leaders and problem-solvers in their communities. In Mexico, for example, nearly half the population is younger than 25.

She was outlining that agenda in an afternoon speech.

Mrs. Obama's first order of business was a private meeting with Margarita Zavala, the wife of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The two first ladies, who have met several times before, including at the White House in February, spent about 45 minutes at Los Pinos, the Mexican president's official residence and offices.

With drug violence plaguing cities and towns along the U.S.-Mexico border, the two discussed drug addiction treatment and early prevention programs, along with other issues important to young people, Mrs. Obama's office said in a statement.

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On the Net:

White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Written by DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer

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