State Health, Education Secretaries Join NFL 'Play 60' to Tackle Childhood Obesity
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State Health, Education Secretaries Join NFL 'Play 60' to Tackle Childhood Obesity PITTSBURGH, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Urging children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Everette James and Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak today helped to kick off the NFL Play 60 national youth health and fitness campaign. Children interacted with retired Pittsburgh Steeler football players, developed flag football skills and discussed healthy habits. "Taking the necessary steps to tackle childhood obesity in Pennsylvania is something we must address now, and address together," said Secretary James. "As parents, teachers, and community leaders, together we can help children establish healthy behaviors so they have a better chance of becoming healthy adults." "Sixty minutes of physical activity every day is essential to the well-being of our children," said Secretary Zahorchak. "There is a clear relationship between health and learning, and partnerships like this one only strengthen this connection." Last month, James and Zahorchak announced that 40 middle schools across the state were selected to receive federally-funded Active School grants for the 2009-10 school year. The Active Schools Grant program is a new initiative aimed at curbing childhood obesity that implements evidence-based physical activity programs that meet the federal guidelines of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity. Each school will receive a $5,000 grant from the Department of Health and an additional $10,000 grant from an organization in their region that has agreed to support the Active Schools program. Schools participating in today's event were selected based on their commitment to health and fitness curriculum through programs that will add 30 - 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. Participants in today's NFL Play 60 activities included students from two Allegheny County schools, Avonworth Middle School and Mt. Royal Middle School. Both were awarded Active School Grants for the 2009-2010 school year. The funds will allow these schools to purchase equipment and have staff available to offer a number of cardiovascular, flexibility and strength-training activities. Participating schools will assess students at the beginning of the school year and at the end of the year to measure progress. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends children ages 6-17 should engage in one hour of physical activity each day. Most of that time should be spent doing either moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, playing tag, jumping rope, playing soccer or swimming. For more information on the Active Schools Grant Program, visit the Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.pa.us. EDITOR'S NOTE: Schools in Allegheny County that received an Active School Grant for the 2009-10 school year include: Avonworth Middle School, Mt. Royal Middle School, Northside Urban Pathways Charter School, Pittsburgh Montessori, and St. Irenaeus Catholic School. CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman, Health (717) 787-1783 Michael Race, Education (717) 783-9802 SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health Stacy Kriedeman, Health, +1-717-787-1783, or Michael Race, Education, +1-717-783-9802
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