Letter to Congress: Prioritize Funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant
Over 25 sports leaders emphasize the importance of funding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant
The following letter was sent to all members of the United States Congress. It was signed by more than 25 sports-leader members of Champions for America’s Future. The signers urge Congress to prioritize funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, which will help get kids healthier and more active, including investments in quality physical education programs.
June 6, 2019
Dear Members of Congress:
We write as members of Champions for America’s Future, the national, bipartisan organization of elite athletes and coaches working to ensure that every child has the best chance to compete in life. We strongly support programs and policies shown to help children and youth reach their potential and succeed in the 21st century.
As you work on the FY20 Appropriations bills, we urge you to prioritize funding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant (Title IV A) program at its $1.65 billion authorized level.
Title IV-A funding is critical to helping prepare young people for success. These funds enable communities to support a safe and nurturing school environment through mental health services, drug and violence prevention, promoting STEM education, physical education, health and nutrition education, and blended and personalized learning - all in accordance with the needs of the local schools. This flexibility empowers schools and localities to make the best decisions for their unique student populations.
As coaches and athletes, we know that physical activity and physical education (PE) are critical building blocks to lifelong healthy habits and academic success. Unfortunately, data shows more than half of high school students in the US do not have any PE in an average week, and physical activity drops by an astounding 75 percent between age 9 and 15. Childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades, and overweight and obese adolescents are far more likely to grow up to be overweight or obese adults. Physical activity has a demonstrated, positive, impact on reducing obesity. A study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in 2008 shows that adolescents who participated all five weekdays in PE decreased their odds of becoming an overweight adult by 28 percent.
Quality physical education also helps kids compete in the classroom. Research shows physical education can impact kids’ performance in school. Specifically, physical activity increases neural activity in areas of the brain associated with attention and memory. Because of this relationship, a randomized control trial from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that incorporating just 20 minutes of physical activity into the school day significantly improved test scores in math, reading and spelling.
Increased access to physical education is just one use for these funds. Providing resources for well-rounded students is a common sense way to make sure all our children are becoming more active and equipped with lifelong skills. We urge you to support $1.65 billion for the ESSA Title IV-A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program.
We have a long way to go to get our children healthier and more active, but continuing this funding so that local school districts can continue implementing game plans for well-rounded Americans into action. Investing now will help ensure that students have the opportunity to succeed in school, achieve their full potential, and contribute to the prosperity of our nation – perhaps even as future Olympians and Paralympians.