Payne Announces $1.5 million “PEP grant” to Further Develop Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program in South Orange Maplewood School District

Oct 11, 2013 Issues: Health Care, Local Issues

South Orange, N.J. – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) announced today that the South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD) was awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). The award is the largest in the history of the grant program to a New Jersey school district, the first time a New Jersey school district has been awarded the grant twice, and the only PEP grant to a New Jersey school district this year.

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

“I am so pleased that the South Orange Maplewood School District will receive this vital educational grant, and I want to congratulate Judy LoBianco and her staff for being rewarded for their tireless dedication,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “Physical education is an essential part of our children’s education, but unfortunately it is always one of the first programs on the chopping block during tough economic times. I am happy that this funding will assist schools in building and strengthening their PE programs, which help teach our children to lead healthier and happier lives.”

The grant will be used to further develop SOMSD’s, nationally-recognized physical education program and create a culture of physical activity throughout the community.  Funds will help SOMSD infuse technology into the program, improve curriculum and enhance teaching through a multitude of professional development opportunities, and expand children’s opportunities outside of school hours with the help of community partners. 

On behalf of the Board of Education,” said Board President Beth Daugherty, “I congratulate Ms. Judy LoBianco, Supervisor of Health, Physical Education, and Nursing Services, and her talented staff for their outstanding past work, and for this new opportunity to advance the health and wellness of all of our students.

SOMSD Superintendent Brian G. Osborne said: “SOMSD embraces the whole child and values the role that physical activity plays in helping all children experience success in school and in life.  We are so very proud of this grant proposal, which partners with the community to support First Lady Michelle Obama's Lets Move! Active Schools! Campaign and will use these resources to bring children to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. It is only when our children are active that they learn better, experience fewer discipline problems and are more ready and focused for learning."

The three-year project will transform the SOMSD physical education program to a community-connected wellness program focused on individual student achievement and increased activity, both now, and throughout their lives. SOMSD will implement a comprehensive school physical activity program which will provide students with a variety of opportunities before, during, and after the school day. The goal is to improve student wellness by:

1.      Exposing students to a wide range of physical fitness opportunities (i.e. fitness equipment, yoga, video-game based fitness, swimming, classroom brain-breaks)

2.      Integrating nutrition and physical activity  in physical education classes so that students understand the importance and inter-connectedness of both (i.e. Skillastics and CATCH curricula);

3.      Increasing access to appropriate activity equipment and facilities during and outside of the school day (i.e. programs offered by the local YMCA, Recreation Departments and YouthNet); and

4.      Teaching students about making good decisions daily in regard to their health (i.e. individual assessment tools).

Ms. LoBianco, who was recognized earlier this year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) as the National PE Supervisor of the Year, said,  "With this new funding, we now have an opportunity to engage our entire community in joining us as stakeholders in our mission to develop healthy, active children. Thank you to our partners: South Mountain YMCA, YouthNet, the Maplewood Recreation Department and South Orange Recreation Department for joining us in this adventure. On behalf of my professional staff, we are excited to be working together to supplement physical education class time with opportunities to engage in physical activity before, during and after school.

According to AAHPERD Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D., “All eyes are now on the South Orange Maplewood School District.  I want to thank Congressman Payne for being a co-sponsor of the PHYSICAL Act.  In addition, I am confident that Judy LoBianco and her staff will successfully incorporate physical activity into all aspects of the school community and be a model district for others around the country to emulate. There’s no doubt that Active Kids Do Better!

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