KANSAS CITY, MO -- Fourth and fifth grade students at Woodland Elementary in the Kansas City, MO, School District showed dramatic improvement across six health and fitness indicators during the 2005-2006 school year, according to a report released by PE4life, a national advocacy, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to develop a country of active, healthy children and youth by increasing access to quality physical education.

Students’ fitness levels were assessed at Woodland’s PE4life Academy at the beginning of the fall semester in 2005 and then reassessed at the end of the spring semester in 2006. Students improved 60 percent in the modified sit and reach; 88 percent in the push-up; 127 percent in the paced curl-up; 182 percent in flexibility; 207 percent in the cardiovascular test; and 433 percent in strength. The testing tool used was the FitnessGram, a test that measures changes in strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness.

The Woodland report also revealed that disciplinary problems, resulting in out-of-school suspensions, dropped 67 percent among the school’s students from the previous year.
Woodland’s dramatic results followed a significant increase in physical education during the 2005-2006 school year. Local foundation funding allowed Woodland to establish a PE4life Program on the school’s site. This resulted in the incorporation of PE4life’s health and wellness philosophy, upgraded facilities, new interactive fitness equipment and assessment technology, and a significant increase in physical education time for students from 50 minutes per week to 225 minutes per week.

Woodland has been selected as a PE4life Academy site for the 2006-2007 school year. PE4life Academies are school-based, exemplary daily physical education programs that focus on lifetime, health-related physical activity and fitness. The Academies serve all youth within the school, not just the athletically inclined, and provide training to school and community leaders in the development of their own PE4life programs. Schools that have trained at a PE4life Academy, completed a PE4life Action Plan and have met a specific set of health and wellness criteria are eligible to be designated an official PE4life program.

“We are thrilled about our partnership with PE4life,” said Craig Rupert, principal at Woodland Elementary. “The changes we’ve seen since launching the PE4life Academy have been nothing short of incredible. Kids are more focused in the classroom, discipline rates are down significantly, and kids are healthier. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

The goal of PE4life’s Kansas City Metro Academy Project is to have five PE4life Academies, including Woodland, operational throughout the Kansas City area by 2010. The Academies will serve K-12 students in urban, suburban and rural settings. Those who train at the academies will learn how quality, health-and-fitness-based physical education programs are a catalyst to fostering healthy, active lifestyles and reducing overweight and obesity among youth. Academy attendees interact with PE experts while receiving the training and tools they need to build a community-based PE programs of their own.

“The bad news is that our nation’s kids are increasingly inactive and the childhood obesity epidemic is worsening. The good news is that the most cost-effective delivery system for addressing this problem is a daily, health-and-fitness-based physical education program that reaches all children,” said Anne Flannery, president and CEO of PE4life. “PE4life Academies provide a practical but innovative school wellness model that emphasizes lifetime individualized fitness education, empowering schoolchildren with the education, experiences and inspiration to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.”

PE4life will have active PE4life Academies in seven states during the 2006-07 school year. The organization’s goal is to have at least one functioning PE4life Academy in all 50 states by the end of 2011.