*In the presence of the President Sebastián Piñera, Cecilia Morel delivered the review of her management as First Lady in which she highlighted some of her most important initiatives, including the Elige Vivir Sano (Choose to Live Healthily) program, the psychosocial reconstruction process for those affected by the 2010 earthquake and tsunami and improvements to the management of the Presidency’s seven foundations.
*The event took place at La Moneda Palace where Cecilia Morel expressed her deep gratitude for the endless displays of affection which she and the President were always shown during their tours of the country.
This morning the First Lady Cecilia Morel, accompanied by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, presented her management review. She emphasized “Elige Vivir Sano” (Choose to Live Healthily) as one of her most important initiatives, as well as the psychosocial reconstruction process which she led to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami of February 27, 2010. She also mentioned the improvements to the management of the seven foundations she chaired, helping them to make significant advances with their work.
Held at La Moneda Palace in the presence of Ministers, Undersecretaries and various government officials, this was the first time that a First Lady delivered a management review. Cecilia Morel stressed that “there are many indicators that make us optimistic, and we are delighted to know that the Elige Vivir Sano message has reached the hearts of all Chileans and has been integrated into their lives and that this priority for the country was well-received”. She highlighted some of the program’s major achievements, such as reaching more than 2 million Chileans through the various Elige Vivir Sano tours, races and bicycle rides and the construction of 272 “healthy squares” in 172 communities. She also highlighted that the program is now a State policy, thanks to the unanimous approval in Congress of the law that created the Elige Vivir Sano system, implemented by the Social Development Ministry.
She emphasized the structural changes in the Chilean education system to promote healthy lifestyle habits in school-age children, mentioning the changes to the National Board for Student Aid and Scholarships (JUNAEB) nutritional guidelines to include healthy foods and reduce the salt, sugar and fat content of school meals. She also referred to the publication of a law that restricts advertising to children, and the sale of foods high in fats, sugars and salt inside schools, and the adoption by the Education Ministry of a new Physical Activity and Health Curriculum which doubles the weekly hours of Physical Education for 1st – 4th grade pupils.
“Rebuilding wounded Chile”
The First Lady spoke of her support for the reconstruction process in Chile following the earthquake and tsunami of February 27, 2010, and said that “the feeling of receiving a country that was virtually on its knees, looking into the eyes of the same people whom we had embraced with joy and optimism just months before during the election campaign and seeing their pain and despair moved us very deeply, and an obvious urgent need was to repair the emotional and psychological damage of those affected. That is why we began the work of repairing those wounds, and accompanying those affected in their pain and suffering, sometimes simply by being close to them, especially in the early days when what they needed most were coping strategies.”
Among the initiatives in this area, she highlighted the Sedes Comunitarias, el Corazón de la Aldea (Community Centers, the Heart of the Camp) project, implemented in conjunction with the Housing Ministry. 73 social centers were set up to support community organization within the emergency camps. She mentioned the cycle of conferences on “Strengthening the Soul of Wounded Chile” in which leading international experts spoke on their experiences in similar natural disasters; a training program organized by the Fundación PROdeMU’s Pasos de Mujer (Women’s Steps) program in which 4,242 women received training in various trades and developed their entrepreneurial skills; and the “Epicenter: Artisan Territory” exhibition, promoted by Fundación Artesanías de Chile, which directly helped 940 traditional artisans who had been affected by the earthquake. Various activities were held to help those living in the emergency camps to socialize and come to terms with what had happened, such as the “World Cup for All” in 2010 in the towns of Dichato, Iloca and Constitución and the Christmas Tour show, featuring music, theater and magic, that visited around 40 affected towns. Other programs sought to strengthen community ties through the “Decorate your Camp for Independence Day” or the Competitive Fund for Community Initiatives.
Among the achievements of the seven foundations she chaired (Integra, Fundación de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles, Chilenter, PROdeMU, Artesanías de Chile, Tiempos Nuevos and the Museo Interactivo Mirador, and Fundación de la Familia), the First Lady emphasized the advances made in transparency and probity, which currently stands at 94%. She also referred to the improvement in real social spending and the strengthening of public-private alliances which raised $7.8 billion Chilean pesos and facilitated the realization of numerous projects. These included the new Artesanías de Chile store in Santiago International Airport; the 2012 “Reaching Dreams” tour, which gave young members of the Symphony Orchestra the opportunity to perform with unexpected success on some of the most important stages in Europe, the birthplace of classical music; the reconstruction of 426 Integra nursery schools damaged by the earthquake in just 18 months and the 70 Fútbol Calle street soccer workshops organized by Fundación de la Familia throughout Chile during 2013, with a national tour that same year in which 6,585 children participated.
The First Lady went on to highlight the work carried out in the area of Social Management which, over the last four years, promptly attended the requests of 40,000 Chileans and supported other projects in the areas of culture, health and inclusion. This included the reinauguration at La Moneda Palace of the Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral salons and two other salons dedicated to Gonzalo Rojas and Vicente Huidobro, in homage to some of Chile’s greatest poets.
Cecilia Morel also said a few words in recognition of the work of President Sebastián Piñera and his government, stating that “as I accompanied Sebastián on this path, I witnessed how he, with much love for Chile, undertook the titanic task of carrying out a government program while at the same time reconstructing the country, restoring hope and normality to the lives of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens.”
In conclusion, the First Lady said that “I will remember these years as a period of enormous happiness and gratitude, because I was able to devote myself to something that is close to my heart and inspires me the most: to work for and with the people, travelling throughout Chile, to its most remote corners, to be always close to the people, sometimes simply by just being there and listening.” She ended by saying that “I hope I have brought some joy to your homes, contributed with each of our initiatives and programs to your wellbeing and I hope that the deep affection I‘ve felt has reached your hearts. The feeling of gratitude is infinite, and we will remember and treasure forever the infinite displays of affection that the President and I have always been shown.”