Active kids do better in school. It shows in their grades, their participation levels, their attendance and of course their health—both physical and mental.  With more than 30 percent of children in this country being overweight or obese, it is especially important for children to be physically active. The best and easiest way for this to happen is to ensure that there are strong physical education programs in schools. As a volunteer advocate for the American Heart Association in Wisconsin, I had the pleasure of visiting a physical education class at West Salem Middle School recently, and I saw just how much PE class has changed since I was a kid.  In addition to every child being active for almost the entire class, students were encouraged to engage each other in the games, make the best use of their entire team and have as much fun as possible. It’s not just about running around; it’s about learning the skills to live a healthy life. With activity like this in their day, these kids learn important life skills and can help reduce their chance of living with chronic diseases as adults. Chief among these is heart disease, which is the number one killer of adults, both men and women. I applaud our local schools for prioritizing physical education for the kids in our community and encourage our state to reinforce this by including PE on school report cards developed by the State Legislature and in the Every Student Succeeds Act process.

Catherine Kolkmeier

La Crosse, Wis.

Volunteer Advocate, American Heart Association

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