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To answer the challenge of the big-time sports concept in our schools, imaginative and colorful programs are needed. The mass calisthenics of earlier days will not suffice. But a concept of physical education which can meet the challenge is available. Its teacher is a graduate of a four-year college course, with an educational background equal to that of a teacher of academic subjects. Given a chance, he can work wonders with his students and capture their enthusiastic interest as well.
Here, for example, is what modern physical education, in the person of Dr. Helen M. Starr, a former associate professor at the University of Minnesota, has done for the 70,000 elementary-and high-school children of Minneapolis.
RECREATIONS FOR A LIFETIME
Dr. Starr moved across town to become Director of Health, Physical Education and Recreation for the Minneapolis public schools after 17 years at the University. In Superintendent Rufus Putnam she found an educator who fully shared her views on good physical-education programs. Their concept of physical education as an integral part of the total educational program has permeated school life, keeping the children not only physically fit but also teaching them leisure-hour skills and recreation which they can enjoy all their lives.
On a sunny afternoon last June, a random tour of schools showed the following activities taking place:
Play Day at Sheridan Junior High involved all 522 boys and girls. There were track and field events, volleyball, dodge ball and other games.
At the Franklin School, in Minneapolis' most depressed neighborhood, a swimming class was splashing in the pool. Badminton, Ping-pong and volleyball games were going on in the gymnasium, and a softball tournament filled the sunny air with shouts outside.
At Southwest High School, the students were practicing archery. Some others were setting out on a bicycle trip, while still others were headed for bowling lessons. Three intramural tournaments—softball, tennis and golf—were in progress. The golfers were among 3,000 students who had been given free lessons by local pros.
The sports program was spread to include everyone. Minneapolis coaches do not receive preferential salary treatment, nor are they paid a portion of the gate receipts, an incentive still practiced in some New England communities. No coach's job depended on a winning record.
Nor does the Minneapolis program stop with athletics. School doctors and nurses, dental hygienists, physical educators, social workers and teachers of handicapped children have all been coordinated by Helen Starr. Health classifications determine the activities which a child is permitted and there is no being excused from physical education. Thus even the handicapped child gets in a game—like the girl with polio at Franklin School who gets her turn at bat in softball while one of her teammates runs with the hit.