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MN Educator: Physically Active Kids Do Better In The Classroom

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 By Tim MorrisseyContact
March 23, 2010

FARMINGTON, Minn. - If we want our students to be healthy and academically alert, we need to pay attention to their fitness levels, and physical activity is a key to that. So says veteran teacher Jack Olwell, who is a veteran Phys Ed teacher at North Trail Elementary in Farmington, and a proponent of a bill in the state legislature to reinstate physical education standards in Minnesota schools. He says there is clear evidence that regular physical activity helps students learn in the classroom.

"Your brain is stimulated, and that's when learning occurs the best. So, when we cut off physical education and physical activity, we're actually stifling our kids' abilities to learn."

Supporters of the Healthy Kids Bill are pushing to have it included in the final education bill, which will be put together Wednesday. Among other things, it would track the amount and quality of physical education currently offered in Minnesota schools, promote quality physical activities, and create an awards program for schools that offer 60 minutes of quality daily physical activity.

Olwell says keeping kids active every day does more than help them get or stay fit. It helps them get better grades and reduces discipline problems.

"I believe that physical activity, especially when administered properly, changes the culture, not just the academic culture, but the behavioral culture of all the schools in which that takes place."

The Healthy Kids Bill would allow school districts to be flexible in implementing organized physical activity, and would allow districts to tap into federal Physical Education Program grants to access funds to support the programs.

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