December 23, 2015

Gillibrand Secures $47 Million In Federal Aid For National Physical Education Program In Omnibus Deal Signed By President

Omnibus Spending Bill Includes Approximately $47 Million in Federal Aid to the Carol M. White Physical Education Program For FY2016

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that, after her push the Omnibus spending bill signed by the President last week includes $47 million for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16). The funding Gillibrand pushed to include will allow the Department of Education to provide federal grants to school districts and community-based organizations to initiate, enhance, and expand physical education programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12.

The appropriations bills that the Senate and House appropriations committees passed earlier this year eliminated funding for PEP. In March, Senator Gillibrand wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee and again in November urging the committee to secure funding for this program. Without funding, current grantees including school districts and community-based organizations would have lost grants for the 2016 fiscal year. The Omnibus bill that passed secures this program’s funding.

“This push to secure this critical funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program will enable the Department of Education to improve physical education in schools and communities in New York and across the country,” said Senator Gillibrand. We need to continue to prioritize the health of our children and help them develop skills and practices that promote a healthy, active lifestyle. The funding secured in the omnibus will help ensure our school districts have the resources they need to implement effective physical education programs and teach our kids healthy habits that they can carry with them the rest of their lives.”

“We are so pleased to see this investment in our nation’s future,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “Funding for physical education helps kids perform better in the classroom and stay healthy.”

“We're thrilled that Congress has made the commitment to fund the PEP grant for FY16. This funding is vital to innovative physical education programs across the country. SHAPE America's members are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on sustaining funding for this program,” said SHAPE America CEO Paul Roetert.

Gillibrand explained that school district officials have cited budget cuts and inadequate facilities as the major barriers to providing physical education opportunities to students. The purpose of PEP is to promote the best practices in physical education and lay the groundwork for communities to invest in high-quality physical education programs for their students. Recipients use the funds to develop programs that address state standards for physical education and create an environment supportive of physical activity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that school-age children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. One in three children and adolescents (ages 2-19) in the United States is now estimated to be overweight or obese. The health impacts of childhood obesity include higher risk of diseases like diabetes and several types of cancer as well as social and psychological problems. Gillibrand fought to secure the funding in this Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus bill because quality physical education programs provide students with a safe environment for regular physical activity.

Senator Gillibrand’s most recent letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee included below.

November 25, 2015

The Honorable Thad Cochran The Honorable Barbara Mikulski

Chairman Vice Chairwoman

Senate Committee on Appropriations Senate Committee on Appropriations

Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Roy Blunt The Honorable Patty Murray

Chairman Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and

Human Services, and Education Human Services, and Education

Senate Committee on Appropriations Senate Committee on Appropriations

Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:

We write to express our strong support for funding in the final appropriations legislation for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), the only federal funding source dedicated to improving physical education in the United States. We were disappointed that funding for this program was eliminated in the appropriations bill approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Since that time, the Senate has demonstrated support for PEP by including the reauthorization of the program in the Every Child Achieves Act, bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate in July 2015. We urge you to reconsider the elimination of funding for PEP for Fiscal Year 2016 so that this program can continue to spur innovation and improve physical education in schools and communities across the county.

One in three children and adolescents (ages 2-19) in the United States is now estimated to be overweight or obese. The health impacts of childhood obesity include higher risk of diseases like diabetes and several types of cancer as well as social and psychological problems. The annual direct costs of childhood obesity in the United States are estimated to be $14.3 billion. To combat this epidemic, regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing obesity and helps to control weight. In addition, regular physical activity helps to build healthy bones and muscles, promotes psychological well-being, and may improve students’ academic performance and classroom behavior.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that school-age children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Quality physical education programs provide students with a safe environment for regular physical activity and help students develop skills and behaviors for a healthy, active lifestyle. However, in 2013, just 29% of high school students in the U.S. regularly met HHS’s daily physical activity guidelines and over half of high school students did not attend a single physical education class in an average week.

School district officials have cited budget cuts and inadequate facilities as the major barriers to providing physical education opportunities to students. PEP provides grants to school districts and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Grantees use PEP funds to develop high-quality physical education programs that address state standards for physical education and create an environment supportive of physical activity. The purpose of PEP is to promote best practices in physical education and lay the groundwork for communities to invest in high-quality physical education programs for their students.

It is critically important that the federal government continue to prioritize the health and physical fitness of students, and we urge you include funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program in the final Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations legislation. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator