SPRINGFIELD – Governor George H. Ryan today announced the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports “State Champion” schools. Saint Mary’s School in Mattoon, North Boone Elementary in Poplar Grove, and Churchill School in Homewood were honored as the champions in Illinois. Winners were selected based on their achievement in the President’s Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Programs.
“These schools are role models for other schools in their dedication to helping their students gain physical activity/fitness skills that can serve them well throughout their lives,” Governor Ryan said. “These schools deserve public recognition and appreciation for their efforts to counter a growing national health crisis among our nation’s youth.”
The President’s Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program, available to the nation’s schools since 1958, offers presidential recognition and awards for fitness to all participating young people. A range of fitness levels is offered to allow children ages six to seventeen, including those with disabilities or little interest in sports and competition, to earn recognition for physical fitness along with classmates who aspire to be top-notch athletes.
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, and a shuttle run for agility.
The State Champion award is presented annually to schools with the highest number of students scoring at or above the 85th percentile on the President’s Challenge. In each state, three State Champion schools are selected based on total enrollment.
Schools named “State Champion: receive a distinctive award certificate as well as statewide and national recognition for their fitness achievement. Students who help their school win by earning the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, by scoring at or above the 85th percentile in all five components of the President’s Challenge, receive an embroidered State Champion emblem and a certificate.
The Presidential Physical Fitness Award was initiated by President Johnson in 1966 and is a prestigious accomplishment. During the 2001-2002 school year, more than five million children nationwide earned 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 founded through an executive order by Presidential Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of the “Healthier U.S.” campaign. President Bush noted, “This initiative is part of this administration’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness about the benefits of exercise and healthy choices. For more information on this campaign you can visit www.healthierus.gov or www.fitness.gov.