NFL, Heart Association Seek to Get Children Moving and Learning

By Christina A. Samuels — November 06, 2006 1 min read

The National Football League and the American Heart Association have joined forces in the fight against childhood obesity. They’re collaborating on an activity kit that will be sent to about 25,000 middle schools nationwide.

The “What Moves U” kit will include lesson plans submitted by teachers that incorporate physical activity into the classroom.

For example, one language arts lesson suggests that students write and act out a rap song that includes at least 15 action verbs. In a social studies lesson provided in the kit, students are asked to combine three different sports into one, while incorporating the principles of checks and balances, and then demonstrate their invented game.

What Moves U, which was launched Oct. 17, also offers a Web site where students can learn how their favorite football stars stay active, and gives children a chance to win tickets to the NFL’s Super Bowl and Pro Bowl games. As a part of the program,NFL teams will also offer fitness events in their hometowns.

“It’s clearly a hot topic, and we felt we were in a unique position to address it,” David Krichavsky, the NFL’s director of community affairs, said of childhood obesity. The league plans to spend $4.5 million for the effort over three years, with $1.5 million devoted to this first wave.

Eli Manning, the starting quarterback for the New York Giants, kicked off the national program with a visit to two schools in New York City. While he was there, he had a classroom of 8th graders perform exercises, then count their heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four to calculate their heart rates per minute.

“We really feel that we have a tremendous asset in our players,” Mr. Krichavsky said.

Health experts say childhood obesity is increasingly a problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 15.3 percent of 6- through 11-year-olds and 15.5 percent of 12- through 19-year-olds in the United States are obese.

A version of this article appeared in the November 08, 2006 edition of Education Week