Federal money aims at boosting children's fitness

Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Five million dollars to boost physical education in school districts across the nation isn't much, but that's what Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, managed to squeeze into a spending bill the president signed into law Thursday.

Garry Lowry isn't complaining.

''It's a start,'' the state's physical fitness promoter said. ''The task now is to get that appropriation level higher next year.''

Steven's measure is the Physical Education for Progress Act and it authorizes Congress to spend up to $400 million over the next five years on school districts that want to develop physical education programs.

The $5 million appropriation for this year is being made available by the federal Secretary of Education through a competitive grant process. The $400 million authorization means Congress does not have to pass a new fitness bill to appropriate physical education money in the near future.

Stevens said that the percentage of overweight young Americans has more than doubled in the past 30 years and fewer than one in four children get 20 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity.

Lowry, who is the Take Heart Alaska program coordinator, was in Fairbanks earlier this month promoting physical fitness and gym class.

Districts such as the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, which does not have a program that requires students to participate in daily physical activity, could be candidates a grant, he said.

''I would hope that schools would look at this as a resource to do what they should be doing, which is providing quality physical education for their students,'' he said.

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