What's new with our favorite fitness non-profit.

During May, there was a lot of talk going on in Washington, D.C., about the future of the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Bill. Representatives from Operation FitKids (OFK) traveled to the nation's capitol to provide support for the bill. Ken Germano (Operation FitKids founder and ACE executive director), Jeanne Dierickx (managing director of the program) and national spokesperson Eric Nies met with senators and representatives on May 1 to discuss the alarming lack of physical activity among our nation's youth.

“It's encouraging that the current administration believes in our youth and wants to support educational initiatives,” Dierickx commented, “although it is disheartening that funding for physical education, which would enhance the lives of our children, was not included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As this is being taken up in Congress, it was imperative that we go to Washington, D.C., with other representatives from the fitness industry to show our support for our children's futures.”

On May 7, the U.S. Department of Education released the guidelines for the Physical Education for Progress Act ($5 million) grant program. School districts can apply for grants, expected to average $300,000 each, to initiate, expand or improve physical education programs. The schools will be required to provide a portion of matching funds.

Priority for funding will go to applicants who will use at least half the funding to benefit schools identified for improvement by their states under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Those of us in the fitness industry and the community at large still have a mountain to climb to ensure that our children receive daily physical activity,” Dierickx said.

“It is anticipated that an average of 16 grants will be awarded from the recent funds that have been released. We have too many students in our country, grades K-12, that will not benefit from these grant awards. This is why the American Council on Exercise supports Operation FitKids and its mission of enriching the lives of America's youth with enhanced education for healthy lifestyles and increased opportunities for physical activity. Start the climb, and contribute to our endeavor.”

Currently, Operation FitKids needs individuals, corporations, clubs and manufacturers to help meet the numerous requests for equipment, training and educational materials that continue to pour in.

During April and May, Operation FitKids received requests from 50 schools with a variety of needs. As summer closes in, a high school in the Washington, D.C. area is in need of an air conditioner for its weight/cardio facility.

If you can provide help with the request, or any others, please contact Jeanne Dierickx at (800) 825-3636, ext. 757, or at jeanned@acefitness.org. All donations to Operation FitKids are tax deductible. Financial donations may be sent to Operation FitKids, 5820 Oberlin Drive, Suite 102, San Diego, CA 92121-3787.