U.S. Government Grants Quench Thirsty Health and Fitness Programs
A rainbow has sprung from the ongoing storm of budget cuts that has swirled around physical education (PE) in U.S. schools for the past decade: In early October, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 256 school districts and other organizations will receive a record $59 million from the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Program for school year 2003-2004. PEP grants provide funds directly to schools to purchase sports/fitness equipment and train teachers to apply innovative PE programs in schools and communities.
“We are very pleased with the large number of grants awarded this year,” said Tom Cove, vice president of government affairs for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) International. “SGMA, along with P.E.4LIFE, decided several years ago to focus on revitalizing physical education in America, and the growth of the PEP program reflects how we are accomplishing our goal. These grants represent real money getting into schools and communities.”
This year’s grant awards, which were awarded to communities across 45 states and territories, range from $28,230 to $570,000. PEP funding will be spent on a wide array of sports products, including pedometers, heart rate monitors, fitness assessment technology, inline skates, climbing walls, cross-country skis, treadmills and traditional sports equipment.
For the first time the Department of Education created a special category for “Novice” organizations. This “Novice” component focused on awarding grants to small public schools, private schools, faith-based organizations and community-based organizations. More than 105 novice grants were awarded, all to organizations that had not previously secured federal funding.
The vast majority of PEP recipients are local school districts, but several YMCAs and Girls and Boys Clubs were also provided grant funding. These community-based organizations provide physical education in school districts with no PE teachers or facilities.
SGMA International is currently lobbying Congress to secure additional monies for future PEP funding cycles. Congress is likely to finalize next year’s PEP appropriation within the next 60 days.
For more info on PEP and a list of PEP recipients visit the Department of Education Web site for PEP at www.ed.gov/programs/whitephysed/awards.html.
Good news for the health of Americans: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (USHHS) has awarded 12 grants totaling $13.7 million to help reduce the burden of obesity, overweight, asthma and diabetes—and address the related risk factors of physical inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use.
The grants are funded under a new USHHS program, Steps to a HealthierUS, which aims to help Americans live longer, better and healthier lives. Funds will be used to implement community action plans that target a variety of populations, including people of low income, the disabled, youth, senior citizens, the uninsured and underinsured, and people at high risk.
Examples of funded programs include organized community interventions, such as walking programs; environmental interventions, such as increased healthy food choices in schools; and educational interventions, like coordinated school health programs. Partners include departments of education and health, various other government agencies, school districts, health care providers, national and local health organizations, faith-based agencies, private-sector groups, and academic institutions. Six programs include a YMCA partner.
For more information about government fitness grants and the HealthierUS program, see www.healthierus.gov.
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