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HOW FIT ARE OUR KIDS?
Arthur Morse
September 20, 1954
They lack strength and stamina because schools concentrate on "stars" and neglect those who need physical education the most
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September 20, 1954

How Fit Are Our Kids?

They lack strength and stamina because schools concentrate on "stars" and neglect those who need physical education the most

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What does all this cost the taxpayer? About $300 per year per pupil. This is about average for cities of 200,000 or more. Minneapolis is a city of 540,000.

OTHER BRIGHT SPOTS

There are other bright spots in the nation besides Minneapolis. In Boston, every youngster who tries out for a school team is kept on the squad, whether he is a hot-shot or not, so that he may learn the sport he enjoys. In Great Neck, Long Island 80% of the children take part in intramurals. In Michigan, one of every three high-school students plays on at least one interschool-league team.

Another promising program is the establishment of school camps, launched in 1940 by Julian W. Smith, Associate Professor of Outdoor Education at Michigan State College. Besides learning to plant trees, construct game shelters, blaze trails and perform the routine chores of a camp, students learn the art of living with each other and their teachers. Social barriers fade away. "It is every American child's heritage to have experiences in the outdoors," says Smith, "and every teacher should be able to teach outdoors as well as in a classroom."

Today, thanks largely to Smith's tireless efforts, more than 80 Michigan school districts send elementary-and high-school children to camp for a week or longer. The cost is about seven dollars a week for food. And the idea has spread beyond Michigan to 24 other states which now report at least one camp program in action.

With the knowledge and equipment which the modern physical-education instructor has ready to hand, there is no reason why any American child who is not seriously handicapped need grow up a weakling, oppressed by the feeling that he "couldn't make the grade." It's easier to lure the children from the cheering sections, the TV sets and the movies than we think. Given a chance, they will embrace a modern program of sports and physical education with enthusiasm and will remain enthusiasts all their lives.

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