Electronic gaming part of test P.E. program

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's no secret Alabama is one of the most obese states in the country.  More than a third of residents in the Montgomery metro area are overweight.

Now, sports organizations are teaming up with Alabama State University to introduce a unique approach to physical fitness.

They're games you'd usually find at home.  Now, they're in the classroom.  Third graders across the state are part of a pilot program, aimed to breathe life into physical education in Alabama.

It's called "Wee Can Fight Obesity," a 12-week test study in six schools, including E. D. Nixon Elementary in Montgomery.

Organizers want to see if electronics can prevent obesity.

"Technology in schools is really the way of the future, and that's our goal--to get students excited," said Drayton Cosby with Alabama Sports Festival.

The activities, including running, bowling, and hula hoops, keep kids moving--and they don't have to be athletically inclined.

"Sometimes with sports, those who can, do, and those who can't sit on the sidelines.  And we want people to understand that's not the case in this process," said Alabama State University's Dr. Charlie Gibbons.

These games work as an addition to the physical fitness programs, but organizers say they're not substitutes.

They say kids need 1 1/2 hours of physical activity every day, and they hope these electronics help them reach that goal.

"We're just trying to use it as another one of those tools. Use what's already there," Gibbons explained.

With a Nintendo Wii--a fairly accessible means of fitness--in place, organizers hope to turn the corner on existing health trends.

"If we can establish that kind of foundation at early ages, then we hope that will carry this into their future," Gibbons said.

The Mid-South Resource Conservation and Development Council funded $15,000 for the pilot program.

Organizers will host a special *Wii challenge* at the Alabama Sports Festival state games on June 18th.

The winning school will receive $1,000 for its physical education department.

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