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Presidential Youth Fitness Program Supports Active Schools Nationwide

Fitness, Physical Education | January, 24 2014

By: Jayne Greenberg, PCFSN member & District Director of Physical Education and Healthy Literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools

An ultimate goal for parents, school administrators, and community leaders is to foster healthy environments that enable the next generation to reach their greatest potential. This includes providing them with opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed both in the classroom and in life.

In order to reach this goal, everyone has a role to play. A clear opportunity is to support our nation’s schools, where students spend upwards of six hours each day. According to the latest research, physical activity not only helps kids stay active and healthy but also enhances important skills such as speed of cognitive processing, attention, concentration and problem solving, which can improve academic performance.

Despite the evidence that shows that active kids do better, schools across the country are still struggling to integrate physical activity into the school day due to competing priorities within the school environment. Today, approximately 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools offer daily physical education.

To support schools across the nation, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! Active Schools, which is a comprehensive program that empowers champions – physical education teachers, principals, administrators, and parents – to create active school environments to achieve the 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity by focusing on five key areas:

  1. Physical Education
  2. Physical Activity During School
  3. Staff Member Involvement
  4. Physical Activity Before and After School
  5. Family and Community Engagement

At the core of Let’s Move! Active Schools is the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which replaced the President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test that many of you may recall from your childhood. The Presidential Youth Fitness Program recognizes the importance of equipping physical educators with the tools and resources they need to ensure that all students incorporate physical activity into their daily lives before, during, and after the school day. 

By adopting FITNESSGRAM® as the fitness assessment of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, emphasis is placed on setting and achieving personal, health-related fitness goals and helping students identify the activities they can do to achieve their goals. While this is a free and voluntary program, there are supplemental resources available to enhance the experience for teachers, parents and students. More information about these supplemental resources and opportunities to acquire them can be found here.

Together, through programs like the Presidential Youth Fitness Program and Let’s Move! Active Schools, we will help ensure that all students can unleash their greatest potential. For more information about how you can help, visit www.pyfp.org.

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