When it comes to exercise, Md. schools are slacking

March 29, 2011

Thanks for your concern about the rising levels of obesity and the lack of infrastructure, programs, policy and funding to keep people, both children and adults, physically active ("Getting exercised over exercise," March 28).

On January 3, I participated in the Governor's Moving Maryland Forum on Education — K-12 Breakout Session, led by Alvin Thornton. I am extremely disappointed that the governor's staff deleted the group's recommendation for a daily recess for all elementary school students from the original summary Mr. Thornton presented at the conclusion of the forum.

Maryland's State Department of Education is not accountable for physical education and physical activity. Local jurisdictions' priorities are set in their school wellness policies, but they are not being implemented in many Baltimore City public schools. Many schools have no recess, little to no physical education, and little if any physical activity incorporated in the curriculum. Children in elementary school can sit all day except to go to lunch or the bathroom.

In addition to the physical implications of the lack of movement, there are emotional, social, cognitive and academic implications for our children, as well.

House Bill 168 — The Student Health and Fitness Act — is probably not going to move forward this year.

A task force on physical activity in schools may be formed in the Baltimore City Council. Let's hope it goes forward and that all of us act quickly to meet the needs of Baltimore's children. The quality of their "presents" and their futures are at stake.

Mindie Flamholz, Baltimore

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