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Out of Annapolis last week came news that should make the children of America—and their parents—perk up their TV-jaded ears—and possibly even move a sedentary muscle or two. In a meeting of the President's Conference on the Fitness of American Youth, 140 conferees concluded that the declining state of American children's muscles is a present danger and that quick—and presumably enjoyable—action is imperative to prevent the next generation from being unable to move at all.
Although the conference chaired by Vice-President Nixon had political overtones, it resulted in independent and concrete action.
In addition to specific recommendations to combat youth's unfitness the conference called for the organization of a fitness group within the government, plus a citizens' group to work with the federal one. President Eisenhower, from his hospital bed, promptly responded by promising to create 1) a Council on Youth Fitness at the Cabinet level to give top priority "to this most important field and to better coordinate the activities of some 35 federal agencies," and 2) a Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth composed of key citizens in fields appropriate to fitness, "to examine and explore the facts and thereafter to alert America on what can and should be done."
The conference recommendations, as summarized by Dr. Samuel M. Brownell, U.S. Commissioner of Education; Mrs. Rollin Brown, president of the national PTA; Dr. W. W. Bauer of the American Medical Association; and Kenneth L. (Tug) Wilson, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, were:
?Total fitness means mental, spiritual and physical fitness.
?The public must be made aware of the problem of establishing and maintaining fitness.
?Fitness must be popularized and promoted among children.
?Research on fitness is needed to decide what kind, how much, etc.
?Funds should come from private industry, foundations, community chests and a greater share of the tax dollar allocated to community recreation.