NOW IT IS TIME
Of course, modern advances and increasing leisure can add greatly to the comfort and enjoyment of life. But they must not be confused with indolence, with, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "slothful ease," with an increasing deterioration of our physical strength. For the strength of our youth and the fitness of our adults are among our most important assets, and this growing decline is a matter of urgent concern to thoughtful Americans.
This is a national problem, and requires national action. President Eisenhower helped show the way through his own interest and by calling national attention to our deteriorating standards of physical fitness. Now it is time for the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans.
FIRST: We must establish a White House Committee on Health and Fitness to formulate and carry out a program to improve the physical condition of the nation. This committee will include the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the Secretary of the Interior. The executive order creating the committee will clearly state its purpose, and coordinate its activities with the many federal programs which bear a direct relation to the problem of physical fitness.
SECOND: The physical fitness of our youth should be made the direct responsibility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This department should conduct—through its Office of Education and the National Institutes of Health—research into the development of a physical fitness program for the nation's public schools. The results of this research shall be made freely available to all who are interested. In addition, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare should use all its existing facilities to attack the lack of youth fitness as a major health problem.
THIRD: The governor of each state will be invited to attend an annual National Youth Fitness Congress. This congress will examine the progress which has been made in physical fitness during the preceding year, exchange suggestions for improving existing programs and provide an opportunity to encourage the states to implement the physical fitness program drawn up by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Our states are anxious to participate in such programs, to make sure that their youth have the opportunity for full development of their bodies as well as their minds.
FOURTH: The President and all departments of government must make it clearly understood that the promotion of sports participation and physical fitness is a basic and continuing policy of the United States. By providing such leadership, by keeping physical fitness in the forefront of the nation's concerns, the federal government can make a substantial contribution toward improving the health and vigor of our citizens.
But no matter how vigorous the leadership of government, we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. We do not live in a regimented society where men are forced to live their lives in the interest of the state. We are, all of us, as free to direct the activities of our bodies as we are to pursue the objects of our thought. But if we are to retain this freedom, for ourselves and for generations yet to come, then we must also be willing to work for the physical toughness on which the courage and intelligence and skill of man so largely depend.
All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.