The Boston school district announced last week that it plans to hire more physical education teachers in the coming year, so that 12 more schools can offer phys. ed. classes for students.
This year, only 94 of the district’s 134 schools offered phys. ed. classes, according to the Boston Globe. Coincidence or not, 40 percent of the district’s students are either overweight or obese, according to physical assessments that the district administers to students every three years.
The new plan, called Healthy Connections, aims to increase the number of phys. ed. teachers in the district by 10 percent, so that 106 of the district’s schools can start offering phys. ed. programs. The Healthy Connections plan also calls for the district’s schools to conduct fitness assessments for students in 4th through 9th grades, and for the integration of physical activity across the school day (in cross-curricular lessons, movement breaks, and recess).
“Preparing children for academic and life success is among our city’s most important responsibilities and the core responsibility of the Boston public schools,” said Superintendent Carol R. Johnson in a press release. “More than anything, this means that children are in good health, eating healthy, staying physically fit and emotionally well.”
The new plan will essentially rewrite the current phys. ed. curricula to promote more physical activity in all students. For example, elementary and middle school students would replace traditional baseball games with “all-run” baseball, where one team member bats, but all team members round the bases together until the opposing team knocks down a certain number of cones in the field.
The district hired four phys. ed. instructors this year to travel among schools and teach phys. ed. instructors how to boost the level of activity of all students. Healthy Connections also calls for the training of “wellness champions” at each school, who would think of ways to persuade students to become more physically active. This past school year, the district trained 75 wellness champions in 46 schools.
Boston created a Health and Wellness Department this past school year, which brought phys. ed. programs to 17 schools that previously didn’t have them.
The district received $4.6 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Education, which it will use to help fund Healthy Connections.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.