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PLAY AND CARE FOCUS - National Physical Fitness Crisis Spills Into Public Schools

25th May 2011 | United States | Children's Health
Source: http://
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When Jim Liston, the founder of CATZ -- Competitive Athlete Training Zone -- heard from his Kindergarten-aged daughter that her once-a-week physical education program consisted of a sitting game of “pass the bacon,” he decided to take matters into his own hands. Today he has enlisted and trained parent volunteers and teachers, putting them to work in California’s Sierra Madre Elementary School to help children learn how to be fit in a fun way. Success in California should be seen as a model for schools nationwide.

Liston’s elective “Four Cones and a Pair of Shorts” has become a staple of this California school system. “The bottom line is that most children, who are not on sports teams, fall through the cracks with the limited amount of physical education they receive in schools with restricted PE and recess programs,” explains Liston. “By creating PLAY (Parents Leading Active Youth) program in schools across the country, we are able to help give kids confidence in their athletic ability and keep them healthy both in and out of the classroom,” Liston continues.

The statistics are startling. In a classroom of twenty American schoolchildren, four are now overweight or obese - twice the number there was 25 years ago. Forecasts say seven of the children in that classroom will be obese as adults (child.com: The Obesity Crisis). In school, time for recess and physical education are the first things to be cut from local and state budgets. The emphasis on learning has become paramount to keeping children healthy. According to the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play, an estimated 40 percent of elementary schools nationwide have eliminated or cut back recess, leaving even less room for children to be active during a long school day.

However, choosing learning over physical activity may not be the avenue to take to improve academic performance. According to child.com, James Sallis, Ph.D., a psychology professor at San Diego State University, discovered that children who took time out of their academic schedules to attend a rigorous and well-taught physical education class scored just as well in language and reading on standardized tests as children who devoted the whole day to academics (1999).

Liston feels strongly that parents across the country should advocate for a PLAY program in their schools. “Running laps is not what being athletic is all about, yet that is the benchmark for many state standards by the time a child hits fifth grade,” says Liston. “It is time for parents, lead by experts such as our coaches, to take matters into their own hands.” The PLAY program teaches children, in a team setting, all about flexibility/mobility, coordination, physical strength and trust. Liston, along with the owners of CATZ, are willing to use their own resources to train parents and teachers across the country how to run a physical fitness elective at their schools. Here are some of the ways parents can begin the process of creating more PE programming in their child’s school.

1. Contact CATZ and find out if there is a local coach in your area who is willing to train teachers and parent volunteers so that they will be able to bring activities directly into your school.

2. Speak with other parents in your school and educate them on the elective program provided by CATZ. Ask volunteers to approach the administration with issues regarding the lack of PE and recess time at your school.

3. Know the problem. Research state requirements for physical education and statistics on obesity and school-aged children to help make your case.

4. Meet with the principal and physical education teacher. Find out what goes on during the PE program and what parts may be missing. Work with the principal to create a positive environment that will help the PE teacher and the children. Set up a time for a coach/parent volunteer to explain the program.

About CATZ

CATZ - Competitive Athlete Training Zone - is recognized as the premier provider of sports performance training to developing athletes. Men’s Health magazine recently named CATZ to its list of America’s Top 20 spots for training. According to the 2002 U.S. Census Bureau, 44.3 million American kids between the ages 7-17 participate in youth sports. For more than a decade, CATZ has created proven and customized training programs which improve speed, strength, conditioning and overall athletic performance. CATZ trains youth athletes to enhance their speed, agility, strength, power, and quickness by using sport-specific programming, while also focusing on reducing the risk of ACL injuries. CATZ was founded on the principles of fundamental athleticism, centered on its pioneered CHAOS trainingTM system, leading youth athletes on a positive path that sports provides. CATZ has locations on both coasts of the US and is rapidly expanding nation-wide. Go to www.catzsports.com for more information.

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