Fitness Program Gets Top Visitors

By Christina A. Samuels — April 24, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, visited an elementary school last week that is demonstrating a growing trend in physical education.

Slowly fading away are competition-based activities as the foundation of gym class. They tend to favor children who are athletic and are seen as sidelining less-skilled classmates.

Instead, programs like the one at Grundy Center Elementary School in Grundy Center, Iowa, represent the programs of the future. It features small-group activities and students’ setting their own fitness goals. The school is a training center for the nonprofit PE4life program, based in St. Louis.

PE4life promotes daily physical activity for students in all grades, in a format that can easily translate to lifelong healthy habits, said Shanna K. Goodman, the communications and corporate development manager for PE4life.

At Grundy Center Elementary, students can learn and exercise at the same time by going through the Heart Adventure Challenge, an obstacle course that represents the circulatory system.

The school also partners with the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, which enables seven graduate students each year to assist in teaching physical education classes.

Mr. Harkin, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, secured $476,000 in the federal fiscal 2009 budget to expand PE4life to more Iowa schools.

The goal of training centers in various communities is to show teachers, administrators, and community leaders that the tenets of the PE4Life philosophy can apply to different educational settings. Groups that visit the schools spend two days in training.

The organization tries to get a program firmly entrenched in a community, which is why the 9-year-old PE4life organization has chosen not to try to expand quickly, Ms. Goodman said.

As of March 2008, PE4life had trained more than 1,700 educators, administrators, and community leaders from 38 states, reaching nearly 2 million children.

“These are common-sense prevention efforts that will lead to healthier, more well-rounded kids,” Sen. Harkin said in a statement.

A version of this article appeared in the April 29, 2009 edition of Education Week


Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.
School & District Management Webinar Fostering Student Well-Being with Programs That Work
Protecting student well-being has never been more important. Join this webinar to learn how to ensure your programs yield the best outcomes.
Reading & Literacy Webinar 'Science of Reading': What Are the Components?
Learn how to adopt a “science of reading” approach to early literacy to effectively build students’ vocabulary and content knowledge.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Conservatives Hammer on Hot-Button K-12 Education Issues at Federalist Society Event
The influential legal group discussed critical race theory, gender identity, and Title IX.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2020.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was among a phalanx of conservatives addressing K-12 issues at a conference of the Federalist Society.
Matt York/AP
Federal Cardona Back-to-School Tour to Focus on Teacher Pipeline, Academic Recovery
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will spend a week traveling to six states to highlight a range of K-12 priorities.
2 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona continues a tradition of on-site visits by the nation's top education official as the school year opens.
Alyssa Schukar for Education Week
Federal Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness: How Much Will It Help Teachers?
Advocates say Black educators—who tend to carry heavier debt loads—won't benefit as much.
5 min read
Illustration of student loans.
Federal Q&A U.S. Education Secretary Cardona: How to Fix Teacher Shortages, Create Safe Schools
In an exclusive interview with Education Week, the secretary looks ahead to the challenges of this school year.
10 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington on Aug. 23.
Alyssa Schukar for Education Week