American Heart Association Praises Reintroduction of FIT Kids Act
Washington, D.C., April 23, 2015 — The American Heart Association commends Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for reintroducing the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act in Congress today. This legislation promotes physical activity by strengthening grants to schools across the country to initiate, expand or enhance physical education programs for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The bill restores the 37 percent cut the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) sustained in the FY2015 appropriations.
The FIT Kids Act would also require states applying for these PEP grants to adopt physical activity standards and use the funds for physical education programs that are evidence-based. Additionally, the states would need to develop a five-year plan on how to carry out these standards, and would be asked to improve data collection on the effectiveness of the programs.
“Evidence suggests that robust, standard-based physical education programs are more essential today than ever before,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “We know that there is a strong link between physical activity and academic performance, as well as focus in the classroom. Strengthening standards for physical education will provide important learning and experiences kids can use to be physically active both in and out of school.”
The average budget for physical education is just $764 annually, and many schools have cut these programs in recent years. Only 3.8 percent of elementary, 7.9 percent of middle and 2.1 percent of high schools provide daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year. Twenty-two percent of schools do not require students to take any physical education at all.
PEP grants are a source of additional funding for these school programs and the only dedicated source of federal funding for physical education. This grant program has impacted more than 300,000 students per year when adequately funded. Over the last 13 years since PEP grants were established, participants in physical education programs funded by these grants have shown improvements in muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance.
“America’s children deserve daily, effective physical education that helps them become better learners and lead healthier lifestyles,” said Brown. “The American Heart Association will be advocating to maintain PEP throughout the education reauthorization process. We strongly urge Congress to pass this much-needed legislation that will strengthen physical education across the U.S.”
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