February 27, 2013

Udall Introduces PHYSICAL Act to Expand Health & PE in Schools

Bill Would Help States and Local School Districts Access Federal Support for Health & Physical Education Programs

WASHINGTON - Today U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) reintroduced legislation to improve the quality of health and physical education (PE) programs and make them more accessible to kids across the country.

The Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (PHYSICAL) Act would classify health and PE as "core" subjects, like art and geography, under federal law. As such, they would be eligible for federal education funding and support.

"With increased childhood obesity rates and diabetes, the need for this bill is greater than ever," Udall said. "Physically active students who eat nutritiously live healthier lives, have better attendance, study harder and show higher achievement rates. The PHYSICAL Act would support health and wellness programs that fit the needs of local communities and give educators the tools to promote better practices so that students can reach their full potential."

As public school officials work to meet standards in core subjects to maintain federal funding and states struggle with budget cutbacks, subjects like health and PE face the risk of being scaled back or eliminated. Udall's bill would allow these subjects to be eligible for Title I and II funding, using federal dollars to expand health and PE throughout school districts. This could include dedicating weekly physical activities, enhancing classroom instruction or developing creative health programming.

The senator recently visited the Future Foundations Family Center and Mesa View Elementary School in Grants to hear how the community is utilizing resources to promote wellness education. There he met students who participated in the national "Walk and Roll to School" day and led a groundbreaking ceremony for new playground equipment. Photos from the event can be found here.

Udall first introduced the PHYSICAL Act last Congress and the bill now has the backing of more than 75 health organizations, including the New Mexico Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance and the Society for Public Health Education.