Despite budget woes: Health and Fitness in children still the goal of some local educators

Students at Good Shepherd Lutheran School have been bouncing off the walls this past week with excitement about participating in the school...

Students at Good Shepherd Lutheran School have been bouncing off the walls this past week with excitement about participating in the school’s first annual President’s Challenge, according to first grade teacher Loralynn Mello. Grades 1st-6th competed in six areas including; push ups, pull ups, sit ups, a mile run, shuttle run, and the sit and reach flexibility test.

On hand for the running event was the managing partner of the Menifee Valley Athletic Club, Paul David, and certified personal trainer, Dustin Graham. Both were active in coaching the kids on running techniques and safety. In addition, the Californian contributing writer, Amy Bentley, was in attendance to cover the event for the paper’s School Times section. The school had 8 parent volunteers administering events and keeping records.

At a time when obesity is on the rise, physical education programs in schools are being cut back due to severe budget constraints. The specialized programs run by Physical Education teachers are being replaced by outdoor activities operated by classroom teachers, many not trained in sports theory or exercise science.

According to the Center for Disease Control; The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, going from 6.5% in 1980 to 17.0% in 2006. The rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled, increasing from 5% to 17.6%.1 An estimated 61% of obese young people have at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.3 In addition, children who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

The public schools in the district do not have a P.E. teacher on staff, but the classroom teachers will administer the President’s Challenge to the fifth grade class, according to Callie Kirkpatrick administration. Betti Cadmus of the MUSD says that district wide, their schools are looking at joining the Governor's Challenge soon. More information can be found at

Congratulations to all the Presidential Challenge winners!


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  1. It is good to see children being challenged physically when our society promotes very sedentary activities: video games, T.V. sports, etc.
    Our public schools at middle school all have p.e. teachers and the elementary school teachers are all required to have a comprehensive upper division class in p.e., health, etc. MUSD has had a great program called SPARKS that focuses on getting kids moving, specific skills, games, and fun as well. Our 5th grade has always participated in Presidental Challenge as long as I can remember. P.E. minutes are mandated by the state to be at least 100 minutes per week. Which is a challenge to fit in with all the other academic mandates we now have. My daughter goes to Good Shepherd and they are a very good school. Public Education however, takes ALL kids, cannot turn any away and we at MUSD do a fine job with the challenges we have. We have a very appreciative, helpful Menifee public that knows MUSD is a great school District!

  2. I would like to clarify that my daughter attends Good Shepherd for preschool. She will attend public next year.

  3. MUSD is a great school district and my daughter went to Callie. I wish they had done the challenge in all grade levels. The cutbacks are happening across the country, both public and private.

    Good Sheperd is a good school from what I hear and I am glad they are running this program. I hope that in the future, all schools run the presidents challenge at all levels.

  4. I remember taking that test when I was an elementary student too! It is a shame that they only do these types of big activities for the 5th grade. I agree that it would be good to do it for all ages of elementary.

  5. Dear Anonymous Teacher,

    Yes, the MUSD is a great district and the SPARKS program has been very successful. I was excited to learn from Betti that MUSD is thinking about joining the Governor's Challenge.

    With all the cutbacks, the mandated testing, and thinning resources, teachers have quite a bit of work to do without asking them to develop or run a more comprehensive plan. Ultimately however, health and physical fitness needs to be addressed in the home to be successful, teachers can only do so much.

    Thank you for your post!



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