Texas Fitness Now
The Texas Fitness Now grant program, developed in 2007 by Comptroller Susan Combs, awards middle schools $10 million annually for physical education and fitness programs. Targeting schools with student populations that are at least 60 percent economically disadvantaged, Texas Fitness Now helps combat the unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles of children who may have few recreational resources outside of school.
The program helps them develop lifelong healthy habits that can prevent debilitating chronic disease and improve academic achievement.
Texas Fitness Now grants, which are administered by the Texas Education Agency, are intended to ensure that children participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and learn nutritional information and strategies for keeping fit. The program helps them develop lifelong healthy habits that can prevent debilitating chronic disease and improve academic achievement.
To be eligible for the grants, schools must agree to conduct a “before-and-after” physical fitness test called Fitnessgram® on all program participants. Fitnessgram®, developed by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, tests children in six ways to measure body strength, aerobic capacity, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. The institute compares test results against a scientifically based, age-appropriate standard. Students meeting institute standards are deemed to be in the “Healthy Fitness Zone.”
Several teachers using Texas Fitness Now grants report that they and their students are enjoying the program. In 2010, one teacher wrote, “I have enjoyed learning about the program as well as reigniting my love for seeing my students excited about becoming physically fit!” Said another, “My Physical Education classes and students have benefited from the Texas Fitness Now grant…. I am able to show students sports, activities and games they would have never been able to play because of this grant.”
Still another said, “Overall we believe our campuses’ participation in the Texas Fitness Now program was a very positive experience. We were able to see improvement on student achievement levels and also student morale seemed to stay positive during the fitness requirements. Students are absolutely more aware of the attributes of eating healthy and maintaining a regular fitness routine.”72
For more information, visit Texas Fitness Now.