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P.E.4LIFE Unveils 10-Step Program To Combat Youth Obesity

MAY 11, 2004 -- With the help of Herschel Walker, Billie Jean King, and a other celebrity athletes, P.E.4LIFE (www.pe4life.org)
released its "Blueprint for Change" on May 5, a 10-step action plan to make children healthier through quality, daily physical education programs and increased physical activity.
 
The Blueprint was the first product of P.E.4LIFE's new
Center for the Advancement of Physical Education, the nation's first physical education "think tank" focused on research, analysis and policy initiatives in the area of physical education.

Among the 10 steps in P.E.4LIFE’s Blueprint are calls for a national standardized fitness test and cognitive health test; the incorporation of P.E. in the calculation of students' grade point averages; the inclusion of physical education in the growing number of statewide educational assessment tests; stronger partnerships between the health and education communities; and new research focused on quantifying the cost of physical inactivity among students in grades K-12.

Herschel Walker considers himself the product of quality physical education. "Being physically fit doesn’t just mean scoring baskets or goals, it also means competing in the classroom. The decline in the number of P.E. classes is a
travesty. In elementary school, I stuttered, I was a little overweight. I was fortunate to have a physical education teacher who gave me self-confidence and helped get me in shape."

Walker continued, "Obesity is a large problem that can be taken care of on the small level. Developing a child through P.E. is developing a child for life," he said during the P.E.4LIFE press conference on Capitol Hill on May 5.

Walker, King and the other celebrity athletes joined a 22-state, 75-person delegation of physical education professionals, and senior executives from the sporting goods, fitness and health care industries, in a blitz of 100 Congressional meetings on Capitol Hill.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association sponsored the Congressional PEP Rally to encourage funding the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) grants at $100 million for next year. The grants are designed to enhance K-12 physical education programs across the country through the addition of new technology such as heart monitors and pedometers; new P.E. equipment and facilities; and training for teachers in the latest lifestyle physical education methods.

The need is urgent, say P.E. officials: the percentage of children ages 6-11 who are overweight has increased nearly 300% in the past 25 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are nearly
identical for teens, according to CDC. Meanwhile, daily P.E. programs are becoming an endangered species as schools around the country reduce the number of P.E. classes offered.

The P.E. delegation scored points for physical education with some alarming statistics. "Tell a legislator that the annual cost of physical inactivity is $183.34 billion, that kids today face a shorter life expectancy than their parents, and that studies show physically fit students perform better academically, and you get their attention real fast," said Anne Flannery, president and CEO of the four-year-old P.E.4LIFE group.

P.E.4 LIFE kicked off its National P.E. Day activities with a Summit on Childhood Obesity held May 4 in Washington, D.C. Keynote speaker Tim McCord, director of the P.E.4LIFE Institute in Titusville, PA, told the 125 attendees, "We as physical educators are on the front line of the battle against obesity. If left unchecked, almost all Americans will be obese by 2050. We must teach kids how to lead a healthy lifestyle."

Participants also listened to panel discussions on funding and on developing P.E.4LIFE programs. Luncheon speaker Greg Carlson, CEO of Owensboro Medical Health Systems, told the audience how his hospital, community and school system innovatively joined forces to upgrade and enhance the physical education programs in the Owensboro(KY) Public Schools.  


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