The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) Program is collaborating with Fulton County Schools to create and implement new, innovative physical education (P.E) curriculum ideas to be launched this month that will give all students greater opportunities for exercise throughout the school day.
The PICH Program, created and funded through an annually renewable cooperative agreement between Fulton County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014, is also providing financial support for the implementation of the Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum (EPEC) in all Fulton County elementary schools and the SPARK Curriculum in middle schools. Both programs are research-based and promote healthy habits in all aspects of students’ lives. On January 5, 2016, the PICH Program sponsored a daylong workshop on creative P.E. instruction techniques at Hembree Springs Elementary and Elkins Pointe Middle Schools in Roswell that attracted nearly 300 elementary, middle and high school teachers. It was the second of four such trainings PICH has agreed to sponsor in partnership with the County Schools system, the Georgia Department of Education, Atlanta Regional Commission, HealthMPowers and Georgia Health Policy Center. Following positive feedback from the first workshop in August 2015, Fulton Schools agreed to utilize the instructional resources.
Despite declines among some age and demographic groups, childhood obesity remains a serious problem in Georgia and Fulton County. According to a 2013 report from the CDC, the statewide obesity rate was 13.2% for 2- to 4- year olds from low-income families; 16.5% for 10- to 17- year olds; and 12.7% among high school students. A 2015 independent research study estimated that 33.4% of children aged 2 to17 in Fulton County were obese or overweight. Studies from researchers at the CDC and elsewhere show that in addition to preventing obesity and obesity-related health problems, physical activity enhances important components of academic performance, including concentration, cognition and classroom behavior. But the 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Georgia high school students found that just 43% of them were physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.
Combatting obesity by developing creative ways to provide enhanced physical activity opportunities for Fulton County students is a topline goal of the PICH Program. Based on the EPEC program’s evidence-based approach and track record of success in other school districts across the country that have adopted it, Fulton County school and health officials are confident that the new curriculum will ensure that the students will have more opportunities not only to become less obese and more physically fit, but also stronger academically.
Watch FGTV coverage of the workshop here.
Read Neighborhood Newspapers coverage of the news here.
Read Atlanta Journal-Constitution coverage of the news here.