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Schools recognize importance of PE

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Garrett Elementary School third-grader Coleman Fleming was among many pupils who broke a sweat this week playing soccer in PE class.

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Raleigh Roundtree, 6, dribbles the soccer ball during PE class at Garrett Elementary School, where the 30-minute class is required each day.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Raleigh Roundtree, 6, dribbles the soccer ball during PE class at Garrett Elementary School, where the 30-minute class is required each day.

Coleman, who scored three goals, said PE is his favorite class, and he particularly likes one activity.

"I like playing ultimate handball," he said, a sport that involves running and tossing a ball toward a goal.

The 30-minute class, which begins with a 400-meter run to warm up, is required daily for all first- through fifth-graders at Garrett, and kindergarten students participate once a week.

At the middle school level in Richmond County, PE is taught every day and students must receive at least 60 hours of physical education annually. In high school, students must take at least one personal fitness class to satisfy graduation requirements, said school spokesman Louis Svehla.

Garrett Principal Paula Kaminski and coach Chuck Williams say physical activity in school is extremely important because many students stay inside playing video games, using a computer or watching TV after they get home.

Kaminski said PE class is "the saving grace of the school if you've got a super coach or PE instructor. That takes the lid off kids that have that bottled-up energy."

School officials say it also addresses the issue of childhood obesity -- a topic that's been in the spotlight lately.

First lady Michelle Obama recently touted a new Let's Move campaign, which is aimed at solving "the epidemic of childhood obesity" within a generation by providing support to parents and more healthful food in schools and by helping children to become more physically active, according to its official Web site.

About one-third of U.S. children deal with obesity, and $150 billion each year is spent to treat related conditions, according to Let's Move. It says obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years -- "a trend that means, for the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected life span than their parents," the campaign's site says.

Kaminski said Richmond County schools have addressed the issue of more healthful foods and have removed sodas and other items.

At Garrett, Williams said, 10 out of 30 students in a PE class could be considered obese, "and it's always a challenge to find something they're interested in."

Williams said he tries to make PE offerings intriguing and fun, citing as an example aerobic states, in which students run back and forth to colored letters with the goal of matching the right colors and spelling out a state's name.

"If they're doing something that's fun, it will carry them through high school," he said.

Let's Move says only one-third of high school students get the recommended level of physical activity. The campaign recommends children receive 60 minutes of active and vigorous play daily to grow to a healthy weight. The campaign says that's a good bit less than the 7-1/2 hours children spend with TVs, computers, video games, cell phones and movies in a typical day.

The campaign suggests physical activity could be increased if children had safe routes to walk to school, parks, playgrounds and community centers.

Tips for keeping kids moving

- Plan a "Kids Walk to School" event

- Reduce the time your child watches TV, plays video games or is on the computer

- Find safe routes for your child to walk or bike to school

- Build a play space in your community

- Encourage your child to stay active at least 60 minutes a day


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GGpap 03/20/10 - 09:36 pm
Take the "coaches" out of the

Take the "coaches" out of the PE classes and concentrate on a curriculum that teaches genuine physical EDUCATION rather than daily "game playing." It is the "coaches" and the "game playing" that have turned our kids into today's TV addicted, beer and chips abusing, couch potatoes during the basketball/baseball/football seasons. Today, PE classes are no more than "fortified" recesses. For most of us, game playing ends at a very early age; and the valuable skills neccessary for a healthy life have not been taught in school. Calisthenics, aerobic exercises, muscle toning exercises, outdoor activities (hiking, walking, runnung, swimming, camping,etc) have been given short shrift. School boards and Administrators need to rethink the goals they wish their students to master if they want to be proud of their PE classes. But, of course, I forget, game playing is a vital part of the public school systems in America.

bone1 03/20/10 - 08:29 am
certainly more attention to

certainly more attention to calesthenics and aerobic exercise for children is a worthy goal for public school phys ed programs. i doubt that these programs are merely fortified recess, ggpap, but your point regarding the excessive gameplaying at the expense of genuine physical development thru rigorous exercise is a good one.

whyaskwhy 03/20/10 - 09:03 am
. . . cause, 10 out of 30

. . . cause, 10 out of 30 students do not want to play and they will present a "reason" to sit-it-out, e.g. wrong shoes (?). And hey, let's put the "H" back in front of the PE (as in Health and Physical Education) and make it a requirement for all grades. HPE teachers are very well trained and some of them could care less about being a coach; they want your students to be healthy and physically fit so that the students can have a body ready to focus on learning. Please allowed them to do their job. Administration should encourage HPE and let the coaches go to the "rec" department. HPE should be the start of Health Care Reform.

SBARTASEK 03/20/10 - 09:11 am
I have a suggestion for

I have a suggestion for parents and people who set up school bus routes. Children can be dropped off up to a mile from their house. No need for bus drivers to make multiple stops so close together in neighborhoods. Parents, let you kids WALK home. Require them to come straight there or possibly call you by a certain time once they're old enough. But let them WALK! Give them a chance to move around a socialize just a little bit. Here I see 3-5 cars parked in people's yards every day waiting for children in two different places in a very small neighborhood. EVERY SCHOOL DAY! WHY?!?! From one of these stops, 4 of the kids that get picked up would walk less than 300 feet to their house. The others less than a half mile. A few of the other children walk not from the bus stop, but all the way from the school and they're doing just fine. Maybe all these children are permanently grounded and not allowed the freedom? Maybe parents need to get a life? Maybe someone can explain this?

cristinadh 03/20/10 - 07:03 pm
I used to walk a mile to

I used to walk a mile to school and this was just 10 years ago..

GGpap 03/20/10 - 09:32 pm
WHYASKWHY, I stand corrected,

WHYASKWHY, I stand corrected, and you make the very important point that I failed to bring up--Health Education as well as Physical Education. Well stated, sir! And to all of you, I apologize for the many spelling mistakes I failed to correct before posting this comment. GGpap

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