The Honorable ________________
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator ________:
I invite you to co-sponsor the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Act, sponsored by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK). This bill would create a new incentive grants program for local school districts to develop programs that include minimum weekly requirements for physical education and daily physical education, if possible.
Every student in our nation's schools, from kindergartners to high school seniors, should have the opportunity to participate in quality physical education. Children need to know that physical activity can help them feel good, look good, be successful in school and work, and stay healthy.
As a nation, we are not living up to the U.S. Surgeon General's 1996 Report on Physical Activity and Health or the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that daily physical education be provided for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Only one state, Illinois, currently requires daily physical education for grades K-12. Almost half of young people ages 12 through 21 – and more than a third of high school students – do not participate in vigorous activity every day. In fact, the percentage of overweight young Americans has more than doubled in the past 30 years. The impact of our poor heath habits is staggering: obesity-related diseases cost the nation more than $100 billion per year, and inactivity and poor diet cause more than 300,000 deaths per year in the United States.
The PEP Act would begin to correct these deficiencies. It would authorize funds ($400 million over 5 years) to make grants to local educational agencies for physical education programs that, among other things, require at least 150 minutes per week of physical education for elementary, middle, and secondary school students, and daily physical education if practicable. The incentive grants could be used to provide physical education equipment and support to students, to enhance physical education curricula, and to train and educate physical education teachers.
I urge you to co-sponsor and support this legislation so that our schoolchildren will gain the knowledge and motivation to adopt healthy, physically-active lifestyles.