NYC schools encourage physical fitness

June 16, 2010 3:12:50 PM PDT
New York City students not have to pass another test, but this one does not check their academic skills. It is to see how fit they are.

Wednesday, the Department of Education reminded families about a program that encourages healthier lifestyles.

At P.S. 279, physical education is a major part of the school day.

"Every class has that in their schedule every week. Sometimes it's very difficult to schedule, but we make it work," said James Waslawski,the principal of P.S. 279.

New York City schools chancellor, Joel Klein, chose the kindergarten through 8th grade school to help promote fitness grams, reports on the physical condition of individual students, to be sent home to parents with the academic report cards.

"It's just to tell them where the kids are, and I hope really all of the viewers ask their children where the fitness grams are. We got hundreds of thousands if kids on these fitness grams," said Klein.

The Department of Education says it has research that shows a direct link between fitness and how well students perform in school.

"We did an analysis of last year's fitness gram reports and we saw students that had higher levels of math and literacy achievement had higher levels of fitness," Lori Rose-Benson, the D.O.E. Fitness and Health Director said.

The fitness grams include recommendations for parents, such as that children should get at least one hour of physical activity per day. Children should participate in be fun aerobic activities. Furthermore, parents are advised to limit TV, video game, and Internet use.

"If you're not physically fit, then you're not going to be mentally fit. So if you're more physically fit then you're going to be more mentally fit," said Steven Fadul, a student.

The fitness program has worked for Yulemny Mendez, who was overweight and forced to take cholesterol medication just a few years ago.

"When they showed me the picture, I was like, 'wow'; like, the change and everything this has done for me is incredible," she said.

The department of education says information about free fitness programs for kids is available online. For more information, visit

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NYC Dept. of education

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