WASHINGTON, D.C.— As President Bush threatens to cut the entire Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) bill by 2008, PE activists are gearing up with lobbying efforts to promote and encourage funding for children’s physical activity.
PE lobbyists will meet with members of Congress on May 3-4 for PE 4 Life’s fifth annual National PE Day. Sporting goods manufacturers, sports retailers, association leaders and sports celebrities will meet with U.S. representatives and senators to garner their support for the PEP bill. The PEP program provides grants to school districts and community-based organizations to upgrade local PE programs. Grants can also be used to purchase sports equipment and train teachers. In the past, grants have been used to buy heart rate monitors, inline skates, climbing walls, treadmills and traditional sports equipment.
Since 2001, the amount allotted for PEP grants has increased. In 2001, $5 million was given, in 2003 $60 million was awarded, and in 2005 the amount rose to $74 million.
Although the trend has been increasing, budgetary constraints, brought on by war and homeland security, are threatening funding for the program, according to SGMA, a trade association of manufacturers, retailers and marketers in the sports products industry.
In President Bush’s fiscal year 2006 budget, he proposed a $19 million cut to the PEP bill – from $74 million to $55 million. By 2008, the president proposes that the PEP bill be cut from the budget to allocate funds to other priorities.
“While the industry is pleased to see that the president has included the PEP bill in his current budget, the industry will be lobbying quite aggressively for the PEP bill for this year and future years,” Tom Cover, SGMA president, said. “The value of the PEP bill can be measured in ways beyond the funds. The existence of the bill sends a message to communities across the country that daily physical education is a priority for our school children.”