Anchorage schools get federal fitness funds

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Anchorage School District has received a $389,000 federal grant to promote physical education.

The Anchorage School District is one of 176 districts nationwide that received money from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Physical Education for Progress program, said Sharon Vaissiere, the district's health and physical education coordinator.

The School Board accepted the $388,966 one-year grant at its Dec. 9 meeting. The $50 million for the program was steered through Congress by Sen. Ted Stevens, who has campaigned for years for more physical education, citing higher obesity rates for children.

A U.S. Surgeon General report last year showed that only one in four students is currently taking a physical education class. The report said the number of children who are overweight has tripled during the last two decades.

The grant will be used to train teachers, but $222,883 is slated to buy equipment, much of it for middle schools. Five schools will receive grants of about $10,000 for new equipment next month. The focus is on middle schools because students in those grades have physical education classes more frequently than in other grades.

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