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Program to fund new fight against childhood obesity

newspaperGov. Terry McAuliffe, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, and Jake Steinfeld, Chair of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils announced today their collaboration to combat childhood obesity in Virginia.

Steinfeld, who has been a national leader in promoting health and wellness among children, is partnering with Virginia to bring the National Champion Schoolscampaign to the Commonwealth, which encourages innovation in the field of youth fitness by awarding fitness centers to elementary and middle schools. The nomination process opens today at www.natgovfit.org and will run through the end of May.  Three Virginia schools, selected by the National Foundation, will be deemed National Champion Schools and will each be awarded a $100,000 state-of-the-art Live PositivelyTM Fitness Centers for their efforts.

“The First Lady and I are honored to partner with Jake Steinfeld to bring the National Champion Schools campaign to Virginia,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Childhood obesity is a pressing problem in Virginia as well as the rest of the country, it affects the health of our communities, and can impact our state’s economic future. This opportunity will provide our elementary and middle schools with the additional tools that they need to create innovative fitness programs.  By working together, we can prevent chronic disease, improve the lives of our young people, and ensure that our economy and communities remain strong.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our children here in Virginia,” added Mrs. McAuliffe.  “They will learn about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle in an environment of fun and fitness.  Our students need exercise to grow and develop, to achieve academically, and to thrive in the workforce.  Through this campaign, we hope to give them the opportunities they need to succeed and achieve their dreams.”

The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils program will make its way into all 50 states in the coming years.  What sets it apart from other initiatives is that it does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding.  Each fitness center is financed through a public/private sector partnership with companies like The Coca-Cola Company.  The National Foundation’s goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.

“Our National Champion Schools campaign has been well received all around the country and I’m looking forward to working with Governor and Mrs. McAuliffe to make this campaign a great success in Virginia,” said Jake Steinfeld. “I’ve always said that academics and fitness go hand in hand and by giving schools the tools, we can build strong bodies and minds while boosting confidence, self-esteem, and focus in the classroom. Our children are our most precious resource and by providing them with a strong foundation in health and fitness, we can feel confident that they’ll excel beyond their wildest dreams.”

Physical education, physical activity and exercise are shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases, enhance individual health and quality of life and reduce health care costs.  In schools, studies show that physical activity and fitness improves academic achievement, increases confidence and self-esteem, reduces discipline problems, cuts absenteeism and fosters better interpersonal relationships.

For more information about the National Foundation or to download a nomination form, visit www.natgovfit.org.

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