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All Together Now

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Next Wednesday, as many as 5 million children from around the world are expected to be simultaneously exercising in an effort to promote youth fitness.

Lenny Saunders, who teaches physical education to K-5 students at Valley View Elementary School in Montville, N.J., says that he founded Project aces, or All Children Exercising Simultaneously, three years ago almost by accident.

"I teach at two other schools, and I thought that it would be a good idea to have all three schools exercise at the same time," he recalls. "Then, other schools in the district decided to exercise with me and soon other states heard about it and got involved."

Last year, for example, 300 schools in Illinois took part.

And now the movement has gone international. As of late last month, youths from all 50 states and 40 nations--including Panama, Japan, and China--had signed on for this year's event on May 8. They total some 3.5 million children from 8,000 schools.

If, as expected, every school in Utah participates, about 250,000 children will be exercising. And China confirmed in a recent letter that every school there is expected to participate, Mr. Saunders says.

Some 85 percent of the young people involved this year are elementary-school students, the rest are from middle and high schools, he notes.

But to reach the goal of 5 million children, he says, 2,000 more schools are needed. In late April he remained optimistic that his goal was possible, noting that last year he got 1,000 responses the week before the event.--vlj

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