Mixed Report Card

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Photo courtesy stock.adobe.com
Photo courtesy stock.adobe.com

Arizona students score above the national average for physical fitness, with an unusually high 36.5 percent enrolled in a five-day-a-week P.E. class, the 2018 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth shows. The bad news: They’re being graded on an extremely poor national curve. The report gave the country a D- in overall physical activity, a D- for school policies and a C for organized sports participation. Moreover, according to one local expert, P.E. isn’t the end-all-be-all for bringing up healthy kids in the Valley. “School can only do so much,” says David Duarte, the curriculum specialist in charge of P.E. and health at the Deer Valley Unified School District. “Five times per week doesn’t say how many minutes of activity that is. Is that 30 minutes? 60 minutes?” He says that, with only about six hours in the school day, the onus for kids’ health also falls on communities. “[Kids] need safe routes to walk to schools, bikes, parks to play in, dance opportunities, fitness programs that are exciting and challenging to keep them engaged.” Fortunately, Arizona is ranked among the best states for parks and playgrounds, with 81.9 percent of kids having access to a park or playground. Ideally, our kids’ marks for fitness should be well above average, too.

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