According to the American Heart Association, childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. To deal with this issue, Maryland’s General Assembly has introduced a bill to increase physical education time for elementary school students.
Presently, Montgomery County allots the least physical education time to elementary school students in the state, as it is the only county to provide a minimum of 30 minutes to students a week, while other jurisdictions all give at least 40 minutes of gym time to children a week.
The Student Health and Fitness Act was introduced and read January 24 this year. If it passes, all counties within Maryland would need to supply 150 minutes of physical activity a week to elementary school students, which includes recess time. Montgomery County may have to spend an estimated $11 million in hiring more physical education teachers.
The Student Health and Fitness Act has not been Prince George’s County Delegate Jay Walker’s first attempt. He has been fighting for a bill like this for eight years, sponsoring it since 2010. “Childhood obesity – it’s becoming an epidemic not only nationwide but in the state of Maryland; eighteen percent of our children between the ages 6 and 11 are considered obese,” Walker explained to the Ways and Means Committee.
Although this bill has amassed some support, Montgomery County School Board submitted written testimony to the Maryland General Assembly. The testimony stated, “The issue of increasing students’ physical activity is being addressed in Montgomery County through newly developed elementary physical education curriculum and the opportunity for physical activity during recess.”
Alex Karbowski, a freshman at Richard Montgomery, expressed, “Physical education is something that elementary school students should definitely have a lot of, because habits as a child are going to affect one’s adult life.”
Featured photo courtesy of WTOP.