Lancaster County School District receives federal grant to boost phys ed programs

September 17, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – September 17, 2008 – The Lancaster County School District is one of 96 recipients across the nation – and the only district in South Carolina – to receive a 2008 grant under the federal government’s Carol M. White Physical Education Program.

The competitive award is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s effort to provide funds to local educational agencies to begin, expand and improve physical education for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The money may be used for equipment, support and training for teachers and staff that will help students make progress toward meeting state PE standards.

This year’s funding amounts to $370,149.  The grant is worth $941,000 over three years. It allows the district to increase the quality of physical education instruction, boost student fitness and get more parents and community members involved in fitness and nutrition activities.  These goals were set after a survey of student wellness, according to Adrienna Witherspoon in the district’s Office of Research and Development.

She said the survey showed that children were not exercising on a regular basis, that one-third were eating fried foods five or more times per week,  75 percent did not have recommended daily servings of fruit, vegetables and dairy products, and that one-third were overweight according to their body mass index.  
Witherspoon said the new grant funds the following district initiatives:

 – Every physical education teacher will become National Board certified.
 – Advanced education and support will help teachers improve their lessons on nutrition and wellness, fitness and health and physical education.
 – Computer-based testing for fitness and physical activity will take place twice a year.
 – Students will take part in a variety of motor skills and physical activities at school and at home, including the use of heart monitors and pedometers during cardio-aerobic exercises. 
 – Purchasing a Dance, Dance Revolution video-game-based exercise program for each school.
 – Launching a countywide campaign to raise community/parent awareness of and involvement in promoting fitness and nutrition.

“We – as parents, educators and citizens – must do more to help our children reverse the trend of poor eating and exercise habits that are putting them at greater risk of life threatening diseases and shorter lives,” Witherspoon said.

The Lancaster district also has received a federal Gear-Up grant worth $2.7 million over six years and an Alcohol Abuse Reduction grant worth $809,000 over three years.  Under Gear-Up, students entering the seventh grade will be given guidance throughout their public school years in hopes they will attend college. The program is aimed at would-be first-generation college students.

The Alcohol Abuse Reduction grant targets high school students.  The district will look at conditions in the schools and in the community at large that contribute to underage drinking.  It will examine model programs used in other areas to address these problems.