Since the start of the NFL regular season is right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss one of the many great things the NFL is doing to help fight childhood obesity: the Keep Gym in School campaign. Physical education classes are critically important to children but are disappearing in many school systems around the country. To help address this decrease in physical education and improve physical activity among students, the NFL started the Keep Gym in School campaign.
This NFL program provides $1,000 grants to middle schools around the nation to help them improve their fitness programs, purchase equipment, pay salaries and help with facility improvements. Not only does the NFL provide grants to middle schools, but they also provide $50,000 in physical education grants to local school districts so they can revitalize their physical education program and gym facilities. Students can nominate their school and winners are chosen yearly. To promote these grants, the NFL is running Public Service Announcements highlighting the disappearance of gym classes.
Our neighbor, Massachusetts, was the recipient of a 2009 physical education grant. Pickering Middle School in Lynn, Massachusetts received the $50,000 grant, and along with the New England Patriots, a Verizon FiOS TV and the NFL network, the entire school celebrated the grant with a pep rally and minicamp. The grant helped them convert their run down locker room into a fitness room with state of the art cardio and weight training equipment, allowed them to purchase additional physical education equipment, and helped them refinish their gym floor. These improvements will allow more students to partake in gym class and allow for more classes that teach students the proper fitness techniques.
Every student should have the opportunity to participate in physical education. The NFL is helping provide American students with more access to physical activity and is helping them learn the skills needed to live a healthy life.