A small town some 15 miles southwest of Waterloo is being recognized today as having one of the finest physical education programs in the country. The nonprofit advocacy group “P-E-4-Life” says Grundy Center will become a training ground for school districts nationwide. Teacher Beth Kirkpatrick helped launch the school’s P-E program 15 years ago which has evolved with technology and now has children routinely monitoring their physical activity. Each kid wears chest straps that pick up his or her heart rate and transmits it to a wristwatch-like monitor. The kids can adjust their intensity, running around slower or faster, and a printout shows exactly what the kids did in every P-E class. Kirkpatrick says some children are pushed too hard during gym class and the heart monitors and printouts can help prevent them from overdoing it and getting hurt. Kirkpatrick says childhood obesity rates have doubled nationwide in the last 20 years, while 50-percent of children don’t get enough exercise to develop healthy hearts — with heart disease being America’s number-one killer of adults. She says it all goes back to training kids early to love staying fit. Grundy Center is being recognized by P-E-4-Life for its “foresight, innovation and school and community-wide efforts to reverse children’s exposure to chronic diseases, while fostering lifelong fitness habits.” For more information, consult “www.pe4life.org” on the Internet.
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