February 17, 2011

Udall: Let’s Get PHYSICAL

Senator Introduces Bill to Strengthen School Health and P.E.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today introduced legislation to get American kids moving through the Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (PHYSICAL) Act. The measure, which has earned the backing of more than 40 health organizations and fitness advocate Richard Simmons, would improve the quality of school health and physical education programs and make them more accessible to kids across the country.

"Over recent decades, time devoted to physical and health education has greatly diminished - and even been eliminated - in too many of our schools. With child obesity on the rise and the health of our children often declining, we must get our children moving again. That begins with access to physical activities and healthy behaviors in our schools," Udall said.

Simmons said, "For the past five years my team and I have advocated for effective and inclusive physical education for every child in our nation. Fit kids are healthy and ready to learn. I am so thankful to Senator Udall for making my dream a reality today. The lifelong benefits of quality PE should be a Positive Experience for every child."

Numerous scientific studies have shown that students benefit on many levels from their participation in physical and health education activities. They improve student attendance, participation and enthusiasm for academic subjects, and reduce misbehavior and discipline problems. In addition, effective school health education reduces health risks for students, and helps them develop healthy habits for life.

The PHYSICAL Act will:

• Make health and physical education core subjects, like history and geography, in order to make them eligible for further federal support.
• Create an Office of Safe and Healthy Students to report to the Deputy Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education. The office will provide oversight and coordination of all health promotion-related efforts of existing divisions and programs.
• Reauthorize the Carol M. While Physical Education Program, a competitive grant to support local education agencies (LEAs) for each fiscal year.
• Create a new school health grant program to support robust health education programs within LEAs and tribal schools.

"I'm delighted to have Richard Simmons joining me in this effort," said Udall. "For years, he has led by example in this arena, and we can all take a page from his exuberant approach physical fitness and well-being."

The PHYSICAL Act is supported by a wide range of groups including:

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
American Association for Health Education
American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation
American Public Health Association
American School Health Association
Center for Health and Learning, Vermont
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Central District Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Connecticut Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Eastern District Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Eta Sigma Gamma HealthCorps
Florida Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sport
Georgia Society for Public Health Education
Hopsports
Kansas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Louisiana Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Michigan Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Midwest District Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Montana Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
National Association for Sport and Physical Education
National Athletic Trainers Association
National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
New England Society for Health Education
New Jersey Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
New Jersey Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education, Inc.
New Jersey Mayors Wellness Campaign
New Mexico Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
North Carolina Chapter, Society for Public Health Education, Inc.
North Dakota Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Partnership for Prevention
Paso Del Norte SOPHE Chapter
PE4Life
"Richard Simmons" Ask America PE Crusade
Society for Public Health Education
Society of State Directors of Health and Physical Education
South Dakota Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Southwest District Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
SPARK
Tennessee Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Washington Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Wyoming Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
YMCA of the USA