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An excerpt from the testimony of Lori Rose Benson before House Committee on Education and Labor, July 24, 2008

by Judith Rink, Tina Hall, and Lori Williams 

This is an excerpt from the testimony of Lori Rose Benson before House Committee on Education and Labor, July 24, 2008. The complete transcript is available in Schoolwide Physical Activity.

In closing, I want to echo something else the mayor and chancellor stressed in their appearance last week. New York City is on the right track when it comes to physical education. Excellence and equity are the cornerstones of our approach to teaching and learning. But the fact remains that only 53 percent of students are at a healthy weight. The immediate and long-term personal and social consequences for that fact are devastating in terms of health care costs, education, and employment opportunities for our students.

As you consider legislation, I encourage you to look at schools as a tool and lever for changes in fitness. Let me leave you today with an interesting question. Try asking your colleagues, family, and friends for their answers.  The range of answers is interesting, I assure you. The question is this: “When you were in school, did you like gym class? Why or why not?”

Here’s my answer: “I am a native new Yorker and a proud graduate of public schools. But I hated gym class. I felt fat, awkward, and unsuccessful. I hated team sports, and that’s all there was to do.” The United States must  create future generations who answer this way: “Physical education changed my life. I found activities that I was good at, things that I enjoyed doing. Teachers showed me how those activities contributed to good health, and that’s still an important part of my life. My teachers taught me, and now I teach my children.”

This is an excerpt from Schoolwide Physical Activity.


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