We’ve become a physically inactive society, where the only exercise that we get is clicking on a keyboard or the remote control of our TV sets! Think about it, when we go to the supermarket, movies, or shopping, we try desperately to get the closest parking spot to the entrance! Our children don’t get any exercise either. They sit around the house talking on the phone, texting, watching television, or playing computer games, instead of playing outdoors.
During the 60’s when I was in elementary school, President Kennedy took over a federal physical fitness program that was started and failed by Eisenhower, and he reorganized a new council to oversee and market a new physical fitness program for all Americans. During 1961-1962 school years, the president developed a physical fitness pilot project for the schools. A core group of almost a quarter of a million schoolchildren took part in the Council-sponsored pilot projects in six states. The physical fitness program was structured into the daily curriculum of school study.
I was fortunate to be a part of this pilot project. I was in the 6th grade when this program was implemented. I remember feeling pride that I was part of a program that our president designed and was paying close attention to. We were trained to be athletic by running, doing sit-ups, climbing ropes (those were hard), doing push-ups, and strengthening our muscles by doing multiple stretches for all muscle groups.
At the end of the pilot project year, we took a physical fitness test and half again as many students passed a physical fitness test as had a year earlier. Furthermore, there was a general improvement of physical education programs around the country. Students that passed the test were given a badge that had an eagle emblem and the words, “Presidential Physical Fitness Award.” For those of us that received this emblem, we had such pride in being part of the project and being physical fit. It also set a foundation on how to live healthy for our future.
I say bring back the president’s council on physical fitness! Let children have pride being part of something larger than their Wii box, or 40” television sets!