Schools seeking federal P.E. funding

By Jeff Linville -

Mount Airy City Schools is partnering up with several local agencies and a neighboring school district in the hopes of securing a sizable grant for physical education needs.

The city Board of Education learned details of a grant application at its recent meeting. Dr. Kim Morrison, chief academic and innovation officer, said Penny Jester Willard, the MAPSS grant coordinator, has put in much of the legwork on seeking the Carol M. White P.E. Program grant.

According to the P.E. program’s website:

“The Carol M. White Physical Education Program provides grants to Local Education Agencies and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs, including before school, after school, and summer programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Grant recipients must implement programs that help students make progress toward meeting their state’s standards for physical education.”

Willard said the Carol White Program promotes healthy eating habits and increased physical activity.

The goal is to develop both healthy minds and bodies, Morrison told the school board.

The school district has chosen to partner with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, Reeves Community Center, Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, and the city of Mount Airy.

Willard said the district also invited Surry County Schools to bring an elementary school and a middle school into the mix; Flat Rock Elementary and Meadowview Magnet Middle are geographically close to Reeves and city parks/greenways.

“These partnerships will allow students to gain opportunities for physical activity by engaging in new trends offered by Reeves … like Turbo Kick, Zumba or P90X,” said Willard.

“Students and families will learn how to utilize their community resources to enhance their physical well being; for example, two of our schools have direct access to local parks. The P.E. grant will provide our school campuses with new equipment to be used by the P.E. teachers and classroom teachers, encouraging more activity during the school day.

“Equipment will vary and include opportunities for innovative experiences like outdoor fitness gyms, Pickleball, Disc golf, after-school program packages and classroom ellipticals with desks.”

The school district also has an ongoing partnership with Richard Childress Racing. This could pay dividends as well.

Pit crews focus heavily on exercise, working to get stronger and faster. Morrison said there was an opportunity to have the pit crew’s fitness trainers visit to share their expertise with the schools.

“A important need for our P.E. teachers is professional development in the area of health and physical education,” said Willard. The grant is aimed at providing physical education teachers with training that could include attendance at conventions.

“In order to teach our students about healthy eating habits the grant will allow teachers to utilize physical activity games that focus on foods and nutrition as the primary learning goal,” Willard said. “In addition to class lessons, family events will be held to provide students and their families with unique ways to build healthy snacks, shop for nutritious foods on a budget and ways they can grow healthy as a family. These family and community events will be created and held through our stronger partnerships with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation.”

The range of the possible grant is $200,000 to $800,000, but even if the district is approved, Mount Airy likely will be on the lower end of the spectrum as it is a 1A school.

Morrison told the school board that there would be a 10-percent income match expected from local sources, but she doesn’t think raising that kind of money would be a problem.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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