Senator Takes to Playground to Promote Fitness Funding

Article excerpt

Byline: CYNTHIA L. GARZA, The Times-Union

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson loosened his tie Tuesday morning at Alimacani Elementary's playground and took his turn behind a few third-graders to do pull-ups.

The senator did the most -- 11 -- while the rest did five or six.

It helped illustrate his concern that schools are dropping physical education programs at a time when health risks such as including hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity are affecting more and more children. Nelson visited the Duval County school to announce his initiative to boost physical education programs in schools.

"Education is the totality of oneself, mind as well as body," Nelson said.

Staying physically fit is important in school, "because you're making strong little bodies as well as strong little minds," he said.

Nelson, D-Fla., said he will file a proposal during the next session that would allow schools recognized by the President's Council on Physical Fitness to receive federal funds to match state and local contributions. The federally matched funds would work through already existing programs that have met certain criteria.

The proposal, however, would not help schools that did not have physical education classes already.

Nelson said he was proposing the legislation in "the midst of a sea that is flowing the opposite way." With limited funding, schools are having to decide which programs to keep and which to cut. …