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July 17, 2008

Kinesiology helps secure $925,000 grant for Morehouse Parish

Kinesiology faculty members at the University of Louisiana at Monroe are addressing Louisiana's obesity epidemic. The department helped secure $925,000 to redesign the K-12 physical education program in Morehouse Parish School District.

With the guidance of ULM faculty, officials from Focused Fitness of Spokane, Wash. and Morehouse Parish School District applied for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant in spring 2008. They received news of its approval this week.

The grant will allow the school district to implement "Five for Life," an innovative, research-based physical education curriculum designed to increase student activity levels, improve the health-related fitness of students, and integrate academic content in the gym.

This fall, the school district will implement the curriculum and receive professional development workshops for their physical education faculty. The district will purchase: fitness, team and lifetime equipment; evaluation tools to measure and create student health behavior changes; and an evaluation system to track and validate the program outcomes.

ULM's Dr. Wilson Campbell said, "Our kinesiology department is thrilled about this new grant funding and the opportunity to work with Morehouse Parish School District to implement the program changes."

The grant will answer an important need, said Hazel Sellers, elementary supervisor for Morehouse Parish School District and project supervisor for the grant.

"It will give us the course of action we need to make our children more fit and more aware of nutrition. They need to understand there are consequences when they don't participate in physical activities."

This is the fourth U.S. Department of Education physical education grant ULM helped school districts obtain during the past three years. The collaboration between the Department of Kinesiology, Focused Fitness and the school districts has resulted in more than $2.6 million for the K-12 physical education programs in northeast Louisiana.

PEP grants allow school districts to create systematic changes and install programs that go beyond the normal scope of physical education, Campbell said. These grants allow school districts to purchase climbing walls that present students with physical and critical thinking challenges, fitness centers that make it possible for all students to improve their health-related fitness, low ropes courses that build team work, and problem-solving skills.

"Without a doubt, this is an exciting time for physical education in northeast Louisiana."

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