One thing that still stops me in my tracks sometimes is when I see kids who look like they're barely into elementary school, texting away on their own cell phones! And let's face it, most of them are more comfortable on a computer than at a dinner table and know more than us about the digital world even though we're fluent!
Not only have kids social lives and home lives changed dramatically, but the school day has as well. When I was little, we had music class (which I always looked forward to) and gym several times a week. In high school we were still required to complete one full year of Phys Ed. Unfortunately, with the decreases in funding school districts have seen across the country, two of the first things to be cut have been music (the arts, in general) and gym. I think most of us would agree that this has been an unwelcomed change. Instead of providing children with an outlet to be creative and experience physical activities in which they may excel, they are forced to spend more time confined in classrooms preparing for standardized tests.
But I digress. The real problem with these changes, that of eliminating phys ed in particular, is that kids in the US are heavier than they've ever been before and it looks like it's only getting worse. Kids are at school to learn, and that shouldn't stop at english and science, but extend to learning how to eat healthfully and how live an active and healthy life.
In March of 2009, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) reintroduced the “Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act” or FIT Kids Act. If signed into law, it would amend the No Child Left Behind Act to improve standards for physical education in elementary and secondary schools across the country.
Among many others, the American Heart Association is a supporter of this Act. According to their summary, the Act would:
- Require all schools, districts and states to report on quantity and quality of physical education;
- Amend existing school programs to integrate physical activity and wellness throughout the school day;
- Support professional development for health and physical education teachers and principals to boost students’ ability to learn and help promote healthy lifestyles and physical activity; and
- Fund study to examine the impact of health and physical activity on student achievement and find effective ways to increase physical activity during the school day.
If you're concerned about the fact that 18% of adolescents are overweight or that many children are not getting the 60 minutes of physical activity per day that is recommended by the CDC, I suggest you reach out to your Representative and let them know that you support this Bill. Also, let them know you want the gov to help pay for this. The local school districts can't be put on the hook for paying for it.
Here's a link to information about the FIT Kids Act from the AHA website.