Nike Calls For Daily P.E. Classes In US Schools
JUNE 16, 2004 --
In a speech at the HealthierUS Fitness Festival today, Nike called for companies, athletes, coaches and educators to work together to bring P.E. classes taught by P.E. specialists for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to American schools. Nike said an innovative, new type of P.E. program, like that developed by SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids), which is fun, interactive and constantly moving, should replace the out-moded P.E. classes that were taught through most of the late-20th Century.
Nike and SPARK were among the more than 50 organizations to participate in the HealthierUS Fitness Festival on the National Mall. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports joined with Congressmen Zach Wamp and Mark Udall, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Fitness Caucus, to organize and showcase activities and resources available to get Americans moving for health.
"For the first time in 100 years, kids today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents," said Gary DeStefano, president, Nike USA Operations. "Our national epidemic of youth inactivity and unhealthy weight has worsened with the decline of school-based P.E. programs. Studies show these programs are some of the most effective ways to increase activity among youth. We believe one way to reverse this trend is for companies, organizations and the government to work together to help bring daily P.E. classes taught by P.E. specialists back to schools."
During the HealthierUS Fitness Festival, Nike, SPARK, University of Maryland men's basketball boach Gary Williams and Houston Comet's Cynthia Cooper hosted an interactive PE2GO demonstration of the "new P.E.," a combination of constant movement, fun and skills development for kids. PE2GO is a national, standards-based program designed by Nike and SPARK to help increase the quality and quantity of physical education in schools where P.E. classes have been drastically reduced or eliminated. Nike and SPARK deliver the curriculum, training and equipment to classroom teachers to prepare them to teach P.E. to fourth and fifth grade kids. In the fall of 2003, PE2GO launched in six U.S. cities, reaching over 6,400 fourth and fifth graders in 43 elementary schools.
"PE2GO is the 'New P.E.,' where students no longer stand on the sidelines or in line waiting for a turn to play. All kids get simultaneous opportunities to participate, develop their own individual skills and learn to enjoy physical activity," said Paul Rosengard, executive director of SPARK. "We provide schools with a self-contained physical education program that gives P.E. specialists and classroom teachers the tools to instill in children a lifelong love of physical activity."
Only one in four U.S. public school students attends regular P.E. classes, and fewer than one in four children get 20 minutes of vigorous activity every day. Health professionals agree kids should take part in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day of the week. Preliminary results from the first year PE2GO evaluation by Dr. Sarah Levin Martin, of the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control, demonstrate more than just physical benefits from the program: Nine out of 10 kids are more active, and enjoy it; three out of four kids learned physical activities that can be enjoyed for a lifetime; three out of four kids learned to cooperate with others and improve social skills; and P.E. teaching skills improved.
In her remarks at the HealthierUS Fitness Festival, Nike's director of US community affairs explained that Nike's ultimate goal is to initiate lifestyle changes in students so they will lead more physically active lives. "Initial results from our first year of PE2GO have been overwhelmingly positive and demonstrate the majority of kids' fitness levels and sports and movement skills improved markedly," said Molly White. "Even more exciting, we received love letters from teachers and kids who were so enthused with the program that they asked for daily P.E. classes in their schools. In year two, we plan to reach more schools in current cities and school districts as well as explore other cities in order to bring the 'New P.E.' to more kids throughout the country."
In addition to PE2GO, Nike is involved in several initiatives designed to increase the participation of young people in physical activity as a means to improve their lives. These range from after-school programs at Boys & Girls Clubs to collaboration with Indian Health Services to fight diabetes among Native American youth to national and regional advocacy. Nike has made a long-term commitment to help kids get physically active, through its signature affairs program, NikeGO.
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