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September 28, 1999

National Youth Physical Fitness Program Announces State Champions

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan announced today the winners of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports "State Champions". Winners were selected based on their achievement in the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Program.

The State Champion Award is presented to schools with the highest number of students scoring at or about the 85th percentile on the President's Challenge, a fitness awards program for children ages six through 17. This year, three Illinois schools received the award. (St. Mary's School in Mattoon, Poplar Grove Elementary in Poplar Grove and Churchill School in Homewood.)

"I would like to commend these students and teachers for their accomplishments in this years President's Challenge," Ryan said. "It is very important that our children learn the importance of physical fitness at an early age in order to lead healthy lifestyles."

Winning schools receive a distinctive award certificate as well as statewide and national recognition for their achievement. Students who help their school win by earning the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, scoring at or above the 85th percentile in all five components of the Challenge, receive an embroidered State Emblem and a certificate.

The five assessments of the President's Challenge measure four components of physical fitness: a one-mile run/walk for heart and lung endurance, curl-ups for abdominal strength and endurance, a "sit and reach" stretch for muscular flexibility, pull-ups for upper body strength and endurance, and a shuttle run for agility and explosive power.

The President's Physical Fitness Award was initiated by President Johnson in 1966. During the 1998-99 school year, more than two million children nationwide won awards as part of the President's Challenge. This program is designed to accommodate students with special needs and emphasizes that every student can be a winner in fitness.

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports was established in 1956 through an executive order by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of a national campaign to help shape up America's younger generation. Today, the PCPFS serves as an advisory body to the President and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on matters involving physical activity, fitness and sports that enhance and improve health. Through programs and initiatives that reach millions of Americans each year, the President's Council encourages regular participation in sports and physical activities for people of all ages.


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