Utica, NY – Standing at Proctor High School, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that $1.65 billion in federal aid is now available for national physical fitness and education programs as well as other local priorities for schools throughout the country, including approximately $125 million for New York schools. The funding is part of Senator Gillibrand’s FIT Kids Act and was included in the national education bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
In the United States, one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and in the Mohawk Valley the rate is 34.4 percent. Physical activity can lower obesity risks and the diseases associated with it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that school-age children complete at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. However, less than one-third of high school students across the country meet that standard.
“I’m pleased to announce that New York schools now have access this federal grant funding to expand and improve physical education and fitness programs so our kids can learn about and lead healthy lifestyles.” said Senator Gillibrand, “We have to make our children’s health a priority, and that means investing in physical education programs that will boost their fitness and help them thrive in class. While some in Washington wanted to put fitness funding on the chopping block, we successfully fought to not only protect but also expand these programs so that our students learn good, healthy practices they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
“I would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for her strong support of high quality education for our children including health and wellness education in our schools through her sponsorship of the new FIT Kids Act that was recently passed into law as part of the President’s Every Student Succeeds Act. The Utica City School District has worked very hard with the assistance of federal grants to make the health and wellness of our children one of our top priorities. We are greatly appreciative of these resources and we strongly value our partnership with advocates like Senator Gillibrand who understand the critical importance of our children’s health and wellness,” said Bruce J. Karam, Superintendent of Schools, Utica City School District.
“Over the past several decades, health and wellness education has become a focal point for many schools across our state and the country. The FIT Kids Act will be an instrumental tool for educators to further develop and enhance programs designed to build a foundation for sustained healthy living among all of our students. Thomas R. Proctor High School applauds Senator Gillibrand for sponsoring this critical piece of legislation. We are greatly appreciative of the resources being made available to schools to help fund these very important initiatives that will benefit all of us,” said Steven A. Falchi, Principal, Proctor High School.
The national education bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, authorized funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program at $1.65 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 and $1.60 billion in each of Fiscal Years 2018 through 2020. All states and most school districts in the country will be eligible to receive grant funding through this program and will be able to target funds to meet their unique needs. The proportion of funding allocated to individual school districts will vary based on school districts’ share of low-income students.
Senator Gillibrand pushed for language to specifically allow school districts to use federal block grant funding under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program of the Every Student Succeeds Act to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive programs and activities that support a healthy, active lifestyle, including nutrition education and physical education.
Senator Gillibrand pushed for the inclusion of this provision based on her FIT Kids Act, legislation to provide funding to improve physical fitness and education programs in K-12 schools.
Senator Gillibrand has also pushed to incorporate student health measures into major legislation before Congress this year. As a part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Gillibrand is fighting to protect fruit and vegetable serving standards to ensure school meals are nutritious. She was also successful in adding a provision to the national education bill based on her School Asthma Management Plan Act to ensure schools are equipped to respond to asthma attacks and are working to help prevent them from happening.