After Whitney Young Magnet High School honored former first lady and Chicago native Michelle Obama on Monday with a new athletic complex, Obama sent a heartfelt message to the students.
"Whitney Young has played such a foundational role in my life," Obama said in a video recorded message for the students. "It's where I first started to branch outside my neighborhood and see the possibilities that lay right in front of me."
After one year of construction, the $4.3 million Michelle Obama Athletic Complex contains football, lacrosse and soccer fields, as well as a running track, softball and baseball diamonds, batting cages, and spectator areas.
Whitney Young's administration informed Obama, class of 1981, of the new complex while she was in Chicago for a book signing of her recent release, Becoming.
Despite not being involved in athletics while at Whitney Young High school, Obama said she's excited the facility will be open to everyone.
"I never played a sport at Whitney Young. My jersey's not in any glass case," she said.
Obama said in her video speech that this facility will provide a space for all people of Chicago to gather to learn, play and strengthen the community.
Athletic teams, P.E. classes and West Loop residents are all able to use the complex and were given the chance Monday at the West Loop block party, "Rock the Block."
"Her mission when she was first lady was all about fitness and keeping kids fit," said Chris Cassidy, athletic director for Whitney Young. "This complex is not just for our athletic teams. All our P.E. classes can use it."
Cassidy said the students can now run around the track instead of using the city streets and sidewalks for exercise.
"This is a facility for everybody," Obama said. "For athletes and non-athletes. For weekend warriors and fitness fanatics. For every student, every parent, every community member."