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State Considering New Physical Education Requirements

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In the mid-1980s, North Carolina made a commitment to physical education. Every school is required to offer it; however, there is policy or guidelines to mandate the amount of time kids spent in P.E.

As a result, there is no consistency in schools across the state. The State Department of Public Instruction wants to make consistent physical education in schools mandatory.

"Our children are becoming more obese.We have so many health problems because of lack of physical activity," said June Atkinson, director of Instructional Services.

Under the plan, elementary students would take 150 minutes of P.E. a week; middle school students would take 225 minutes a week.

"What we're after is a balance. We know that good physical fitness helps a person to be more mentally alert as well as being physically fit," Atkinson said.

"I want them to be able to come in and feel good about themselves when they leave. To find something they can do when they're outside of my classroom," said Debbie Powell,a physical education teacher.

Powell agrees P.E. should be a bigger part the curriculum, but said schools will need more resources.

"It's going to require a lot of support from all the different angles. It's going to be difficult to find the personnel and I'm sure the budget will have to support the program as well," she said.

The goal of the plan is to get kids into a lifetime routine of exercise -- not just team sports, but activities which emphasize personal fitness goals.

The school board will discuss the issue Wednesday and likely vote on it in January. If passed, it would go into effect in the 2005-2006 school year.


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