The official newsletter of the President's Challenge                                July 2011  
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topGreetings from the President's Challenge

Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program!  

You have received the July 2011 issue of Fitness is Fun, the official e-mail distribution of the President's Challenge. These monthly e-mails will keep you updated on our programs, activities of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) and other current information pertaining to health and fitness.


ATTENTION EDUCATORS! The whistle to the right is for you! To help you better navigate our newsletter, the whistle will appear next to any information that directly pertains to you as an educator.  




President's Challenge News


PALA 2.0 in the works

As the Million PALA Challenge with the original Presidential Active Lifestyle Award comes to a close, work is underway on the development of a new version.  "PALA 2.0" will include a new user-friendly nutrition component based on the recommendations from the recently debuted MyPlate.  Launch is anticipated for October 2011.  PALA is a program that allows people of all ages to get recognition for their physical activity endeavors and, soon, for their commitment to healthy eating, too.



The Million PALA Challenge will come to a close this September.  If you haven't received your PALA yet, now is the time to join us in meeting our goal and improving your own health and fitness.  Find out how! 


New merchandise coming soon

Keep checking in at the President's Challenge Shop.  We have a whole new line of items coming soon!





If you've contributed to the Million PALA Challenge, show off your hard work with the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award T-shirt. Oxford-grey with "Move It. Log It. Earn It." splashed across the chest, this comfortable shirt is made of 90 percent pre-shrunk cotton and 10 percent polyester.  For information on how to order an Adult or Youth PALA T-shirt or any of our other fitness products, visit our online shopping center.


red arrowPRICE: $8.50 (adult), $7.35 (youth) 



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National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition appoints Executive Director

Richard Killingsworth July 8, the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition announced the appointment of its inaugural Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Richard Killingsworth (pictured right).  Killingsworth is a Deputy Director and Senior Advisor for Nemours Health and Prevention Services, a pediatric health system (which is involved in the new Let's Move! Child Care initiative, see the Let's Move! story below).  An active supporter of and participant in the President's Council for over 20 years, Killingsworth will be assisting the Council in several areas including the National Physical Activity Plan, the America's Great Outdoors initiative and other efforts that complement and enhance the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign. Read the press release from the foundation.



Let's Move! introduces new tools for child and day care centers

In an effort to prevent childhood obesity before it starts, the Let's Move! initiative introduced Let's Move! Child Care June 8.  The program has published a five-element checklist for providers and parents to help America's youngsters get off to a healthy start:

  • Physical Activity: Provide 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.
  • Screen Time: No screen time for children under two years.  For children age two and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and work with parents and caregivers to ensure children have no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day, the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family-style when possible, and no fried foods.
  • Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and do not serve sugary drinks.  For children age two and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4-6 ounce serving of 100% juice per day.
  • Infant feeding:  For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day; and support all new parents in their decisions about infant feeding.  

child careAlready, Let's Move! Child Care has received commitments from the public sector: the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration; and also the private sector, Bright Horizons, the nation's second largest childcare provider. All three are committing to implement the checklist that will reach over 280,000 children.


Nemours, a pediatric health system, is leading an effort to provide free, comprehensive resources and tools in a newly developed website, and the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies is committed to providing technical assistance to providers.


Childcare providers and parents can go to for these free tools and resources and to share success stories.



More often than not, screen time and physical activity do not accompany one another.  For the Question of the Month for July, we want to know how you feel about TV.  Do you watch TV?  How much? How do you balance it with physical activity?  Share your response with us.



Best Bones Forever! launches Let's Dance Contest

Encourage the young girls in your life to dance their way to better bone health and overall fitness by entering the Best Bones Forever! (BFF!) Let's Dance Contest. By promoting physical activity and calcium and vitamin D consumption through good food choices, BBF! is working to improve girls' bone health.  Girls ages 9 to 18 can enter the contest by forming a group of two to six people and submitting a video of their own dance routine.  All dance routines must be choreographed to songs from the pop group Savvy.  Entrants in the Let's Dance Contest have a chance to win a guest appearance in a Savvy Music video. 


BBF! has asked for your help in promoting the contest to get girls moving and building strong bones.   They have created tools and resources to help you bring this contest to your community, including: BBF!

  • Fact sheet
  • Flyer
  • Pre-written newsletter text
  • Facebook posts and Tweets
  • Event ideas
  • Web badges and banners
  • Press release
  • How-to guide for media outreach

To access these materials, please contact Elizabeth Osborn at or 202-706-7434.



Obama Administration releases National Prevention Strategy

On June 16, members of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (Chair), as well as Senator Tom Harkin and Domestic Policy Council (DPC) Director Melody Barnes, announced the release of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy.


The National Prevention Strategy is based on four strategic directions to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life:

  • Building Healthy and Safe Community Environments:  Prevention of disease starts in our communities and at home; not just in the doctor's office. 
  • Expanding Quality Preventive Services in Both Clinical and Community Settings: When people receive preventive care, such as immunizations and cancer screenings, they have better health and lower health care costs. 
  • Empowering People to Make Healthy Choices:  When people have access to actionable and easy-to-understand information and resources, they are empowered to make healthier choices.
  • Eliminating Health Disparities: By eliminating disparities in achieving and maintaining health, we can help improve quality of life for all Americans. 

To get more information, download the strategy, read the HHS press releaseor watch the video of the Q & A session below.



National Prevention and Health Strategy  Q & A Session
National Prevention and Health Strategy Q & A Session

red arrowYOU SAID IT!

In the responses to our Question of the Month for June, "Do you consider your community a healthy community, and what would you do to improve it?", we received some great suggestions that correspond to the strategic directions included in the National Prevention Strategy.  See our Get Inspired section to view what your fellow readers had to say and learn about some resources for improving the health of your community.  


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Upcoming Events  


July is National UV Safety Month

UV SafetyDid you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States?  Take advantage of the summer weather to enjoy activity in the outdoors, but don't forget to wear your sunscreen, UV protective clothing, and a hat and to seek shade when possible!  Sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, UV Safety Month is intended to reduce the prevalence of skin cancer and eye damage.  Learn more by checking out the National Health Information Center toolkit, which includes helpful ideas for how you can protect yourself and others, such as:

  • Remember, the sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • For best results, apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside.
  • Send an e-card from or the CDC to your friends and family to remind them about sun safety.
  • Host a tree-planting event to make it possible to enjoy the outdoors while staying in the shade.
  • Learn how to do a skin self-exam to check for skin cancer warning signs.


36th Annual National Wellness Conference

July 18 - 21

Stevens Point, WI

Learn more. 


27th Annual IDEA World Fitness Convention

August 11 - 14

Los Angeles, CA

Learn more. 


8th Annual World Wide Day of Play

September 24

Washington, D.C.

Nickelodeon will host an entire day of activities and games to encourage kids and their families to support active, healthy lifestyles.  From noon to 3 p.m., the network will suspend all programming to promote abandoning the TV for some physical activity. Learn more. 



As Nickelodeon has acknowledged with their afternoon programming suspension, sedentary TV-watching is a contributing factor in America's obesity and overweight epidemic. For the Question of the Month for July, we want to know how you feel about TV.  Do you watch TV?  How much? How do you balance it with physical activity? Share your response with us.



Million PALA Challenge: Are you 1 of the One Million?


It's not too late for you to be one in one million! Sign up today to help us meet our Million PALA Challenge.  Launched last September, the challenge set a goal of getting 1,000,000 new PALA participants in the course of one year.  Every person counts, so encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to join in as well!  Those who earn their PALA will have access to a free, limited-edition e-certificate. 



Check out the Special Feature in our Get Inspired section to see how two unique communities helped us get closer to our Million PALA goal.



Announcement of 2010-2011 State Champion Schools

October 1

 whistleEvery year, the President's Challenge presents three super-fit schools from each state with its exclusive State Champion Award.  Entries for 2010-2011 are now closed, but if your school is interested in applying for 2011-2012, fill out the online application or mail in the entry form (PDF) with your class composite record after your students complete testing in the upcoming school year.



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GET ACTIVE                                                


"Tri" a Triathlon!


Maybe you swim.  Maybe you bike.  Maybe you run.  But what about doing all three in a row?  Make this summer your time to train for a triathlon!


Preparing for a triathlon is the perfect way to mix up your workout fact that is the reason this event came to be. The first known race to combine the elements of swimming, biking, and running took place in 1974 in San Diego's Mission Bay. Organized by the San Diego Track Club, the event was intended as a relief from the boredom of their typical training.  John Collins participated in this first race, and then later went on to develop what may be the triathlon's most recognizable event: the Ironman. (Source:


Although the most popular format, which is used in the Olympics, consists of a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride, and a 10K run, triathlons vary in length and duration. You can use the triathlon calendar at to find the right race for you. 


To get started with training, you can utilize the official training plans of USA Triathlon, triathlon's national governing body associated with the United States Olympic Committee.


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"Tri" a Triathlon Part 2: Bike


The June, July, and August issues of Fitness is Fun will feature tips and resources to help you train for each portion of the race.  This month, we ride on with biking.


Get the Gear

Since biking is the longest portion of any triathlon, you want to have gear with which you are comfortable.  But what exactly does "gear" entail for a triathlon?  If you Google "triathlon biking gear," you will find a plethora of websites trying to sell you a deluge of different biking gadgets ranging from GPS and heart rate monitors to special saddle (seat) covers to shock-absorbing gel for your handlebars.  If you decide to become a genuine triathlete or want to be truly competitive, you might decide to further research these accessories and find out what is most helpful to you. 


But if you are just starting out and your goal is to just finish, all you really need is a helmet and a bike. Your helmet should be in good condition, and less than five years old.  With the bike, the main thing is that it should be comfortable and an appropriate fit for you - if not you could end up expending unnecessary energy pedaling and potentially injure yourself.  Realistically, you can just use whatever bike is already in your garage or borrow one until you are sure you want to invest in a tri-specific bike.  However, there are still a couple things you might want to consider.

  • The Handlebars - Clip-on aerobars are an easy upgrade for extra speed and comfort throughout your ride.  They are usually only used with actual road bikes.  Aerobars extend straight forward from the center of the normal handlebars.  By allowing the rider to lean forward, stretching his hands forward to hold the handles while resting his elbows on the cups in the middle of the bars, they help reduce wind resistance (see "tucking" in the next section).
  • The Tires - If you switch out knobby mountain bike tires for the skinny smooth tires seen on road bikes, you will have a swifter, smoother ride.  The knobby tires create a lot more resistance due to their surface, width and pressure
  • The Pedals - The most efficient type of pedal is a clipless pedal because they allow you to use your energy and force throughout the entire cycle of a pedal stroke.  Conversely, with regular, basic pedals, you can only use your force when pushing down at the top of the stroke.  Like aerobars, this is an easy upgrade to improve your riding.  However, the name is somewhat of a misnomer because even though they lack a cage or clip on top, you do have to clip into this kind of pedal.  This means, if you make the switch, you will need to buy the corresponding bike shoes as well.  

If you decide that you want to amp up your gear a bit more, provides some suggestions for intermediate and advanced triathlon gear. 


One more thing: safety! Regardless of the sophistication of your biking equipment, it must be safe and a helmet is a requirement! Some triathlon organizers will check your bike for roadworthiness before allowing you to race, so if you want to ensure that you can participate, either check your bike yourself or take it to your local bike shop prior to race day. 



When it comes to safety, sunscreen and sunglasses can be just as vital as a good bike and helmet. In honor of July being UV Safety Month, protect your eyes and skin when training and racing. 


(Sources: Gomez, Javier. Your First Triathlon: What Equipment You really Need. <>.; Colvin, Jennifer.  Beginner's Triathlon Gear List: No Need to Break the Bank. <>.; Baxter, Ken. Your first triathlon: A beginners guide to get your through your first race. <>.


Talk the talk

Once you have all the necessary gear for the riding portion of your triathlon, you need to know how to talk about  using it.  The following terms will help you navigate some of the language of triathlon biking:

  • Cadence - the speed of pedaling, measured in revolutions per minute (RPM)
  • Spinning - when a rider has a nice, smooth circular motion of the pedals, usually at low resistance, which is good for recovery
  • Hammering - when a rider pedals very hard and attempts to gain as much speed as possible, which is difficult to maintain
  • Tucking or Aero Position - when a rider leans forward by bringing his head down close to the handlebars so that wind passes over him, which is especially important during the downhill portions of races in order to gain speed
  • Drafting - when one rider uses another rider to block the wind, allowing him to use less energy, depending on the race, this can be illegal, so it is best to either pass or stay three bike lengths behind other riders to stay out of the draft-zone
  • Top tube - the bar that extends horizontally from the handlebars, between the rider's legs and back toward the rear wheel
  • Down tube - the bar that extends diagonally down from the handlebars toward the back wheel  

(Sources: Greenfield, Ben.  Tri Lingo 101 - Part 2: Common Triathlon Bike Terms.  <>.;  Ironstruck. Ironman Bike Terminology.  <>.)



Build your mileage up without breaking your body down

The following article introduction was taken from the weekly training tips offered by USA Triathlon:


"As summer approaches, it is not unusual for cyclists to increase their riding mileage. A rider can either increase the length of each ride, or increase the number of days a week they ride. Many athletes do both.  However, there are some tips and guidelines which should be followed in order to avoid injury or fatigue."  Read more. 


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News and Research


Feel the burn to cure the pain

Exercising for even just one hour per week could lower your risk for chronic pain often experienced in the back, neck and shoulders, according to a new Norwegian study of over 30,000 participants.  Unsurprisingly, those who were more overweight were more likely to develop chronic pain.  However, after taking into account participants' age, BMI, smoking habits, and participation in manual labor, men who were exercising 2 hours or more per week at the start of the study were 25 percent less likely to have lower back pain 11 years later, and 20 percent less likely to have neck or shoulder pain, compared to men who didn't exercise at all. And women who exercised at least 2 hours per week were 8 percent less likely to develop lower back pain than women who were inactive, and 9 percent less likely to develop neck and shoulder pain. Read more. 



Exercise may help reduce the risk of "silent strokes" in seniors

As we age, we are more likely to experience "silent strokes," which increase the chances of future strokes and can cause significant damage such as impaired mobility and memory problems.  But a new study published by the American Academy of Neurology has said that moderate to intense exercise for older people may help keep their brains healthy enough to reduce the occurrence of silent strokes. Brain scans of 1,238 people were taken at the beginning of the study, and then again after about six years, when the participants were an average age of 70 years old.  Those who reported engaging in moderate to intense physical activity were 40 percent less likely to have experienced silent strokes.  Read more. 



America receives another "F" as in fat

A year has passed since the last "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future" report was published, but still America continues to pile on the pounds.  The report, from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) revealed that 16 states have experienced increases in their adult obesity rates.  Once again, the South took the brunt of the obesity epidemic, with Mississippi having the highest prevalence of adult obesity for the seventh year in a row.  Across racial and economic divides, ethnic minorities, particularly black Americans, and Americans with less education and lower incomes had the highest rates of adult obesity.


For the first time, the report compared obesity rates over the last two decades.  Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate over 15 percent, but now, only one state (Colorado) is under 20 percent, and 38 states have surpassed 25 percent.  


Adult Obesity Rates

adult obesity rates

Childhood Obesity Rates 

childhood obesity rates


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Food for Thought


When the USDA published their 2010 Dietary Guidelines, they identified three selected messages for consumers to consider.

1.    Balancing calories

2.    Foods to increase

3.    Foods to decrease

Starting this month, we will feature one of these messages in each FIF issue.

get nourished


myplateFoods to Increase

In light of the United States' continuing battle against overweight and obesity (see the Get Active News and Research section for the most recent statistics), it may seem counter-intuitive to say we need to increase our consumption of some foods.  But similar to many aspects of life, nutrition is all about balance, and based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, there are some important food groups Americans are neglecting and some simple changes we could make to improve our health.


The new MyPlate logo is a good reminder of how to divide your meals between the five food groups.


It is important to include potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D in your diet.  The following advice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help you get the nutrients you need.


1.     Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.


2.     Make at least half of your grains whole grains.


3.     Switch to fat-free or low fat (1%) milk.


Results from a recent Harvard study about how diet contributes to long-term weight gain echoed the validity of these suggestions. With 120,877 U.S. men and women as participants, the study found that when the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts increased, people in the study gained less weight.  The researchers believe this is due to the fact that eating these foods tends to displace the consumption of other higher-calorie, more-processed foods.  Additionally, these types of food tend to have higher fiber content and take longer to digest, allowing people to feel fuller faster and maintain that feeling of fullness longer.


Yogurt consumption was also inversely associated with weight gain, although researchers did not know exactly why.  One theory is that yogurt induces changes in bacteria content of the colon, which could affect weight gain.  However, it is also possible that some other confounding factor could explain the yogurt results.   


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News and Research


Overflow of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among U.S. teens

Although sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) can be a source of water, they generally have poor nutrient content in comparison to milk and 100 percent fruit juice.  Additionally, the increased caloric value of SSBs is one of the factors contributing to the prevalence of obesity and overweight throughout the nation.  When the CDC analyzed data from a national school-based survey, they found that although water, milk, and 100 percent fruit juice were the beverages consumed most commonly during the 7 days before the survey,

  • 24.3 percent of high school students drank a serving (e.g., can, bottle, or glass) of regular soda or pop,
  • 16.1 percent drank a serving of a sports drink
  • and 16.9 percent drank a serving of another SSB one or more times per day during the same period.

Overall, males were more likely to drink SSBs than females, and black students were more likely to consume SSBs than their Hispanic or white peers.  Read more from the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

Good news for children with a sweet tooth

A study recently published in Food and Nutrition Research suggested "candy consumption did not adversely affect health risk markers in children and adolescents."  Although candy-consumers did have a higher overall caloric and sugar intake, their weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and percentiles for weight-for-age and BMI-for-age were actually lower than their non-candy-consuming counterparts.  Respectively, candy-consumers were 22 percent less likely among children ages 2 to 13 and 26 percent less likely among adolescents ages 14 to 18 to be overweight and obese than non-candy consumers. Read the study.  


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Question of the Month 


Last month, in light of the release of the 2011 American Fitness Index, we asked you about the health and fitness of your community.   See what some of your fellow readers had to say about their communities as well as some resources to improve them:


Do you consider your community a healthy community?   


"No.  As a native Seattleite transplanted to Denton, Texas, the differences in each community's culture of health are very noticeable to me. Particularly noticeable are the prevalence of fast food/national chains, as well as huge cars that are the primary, if not only, mode of transportation [in Denton]. There is so much emphasis in Seattle's community on living well and being healthy - an extremely successful public transportation system as well as a great network of bike-accessible roads and trails makes Seattle ideal for actively incorporating beneficial activities into your routine."


Denton, TX


"No. There are few sidewalks, which I prefer for safe walking. We used to be able to walk at the neighborhood schools, but they are now posted with "no trespassing" signs.  [My community should allow] the tracks to be used at all local schools for walking in the evening and early morning."

Francie H. 

Lee's Summit, MO 


"No. Our community is a collection of 'islands' for activity with busy, relatively hazardous transportation corridors. Our community needs more linear greenways to encourage safe individual activities."


Niceville, FL 


"Yes. In our community, we love to dance. Dance is one of the most fun ways to promote exercise and there are so many people who like to dance. I instruct line dancing every Wednesday for free at a local lodge. My goal is to promote a healthy, positive, and friendly environment to all ages through physical activity of line dancing. I started out with 5 individuals attending my class. Now I have around 35, and it is constantly growing. Check out the video to see how much fun we have at


[To improve the health of my community, I would] offer more free classes if I had more buildings available to me free of charge. More people would get involved if there was not a cost. I am willing I just don't have the space."

Sonya R.

Austin, TX




There are tons of resources out there for those who are looking to improve the health and fitness of their community.  The CDC offers a database of Community Health Resources , including listings specific to physical activity .


CHANGE The Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluation (CHANGE) Tool and Action Guide contains eight action steps. CHANGE is a data-collection tool that provides community leaders with a snapshot of local policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place and helps to identify areas for improvement. With this data, communities can map out a course for health improvement by creating policy strategies to make positive and sustainable changes in their communities. To learn more about the CHANGE tool and its benefits, visit theCHANGE page . The CHANGE Tool Action Guide, CHANGE Tool files, and supplemental materials can be downloaded by visiting the  CHANGE download page .



You can refer to the CDC�s Active Community Environments Resource for more information about building a community with greater access to physical activity. The National Complete Streets Coalition is another organization that can help you find ways to enable safe access to all streets for all users, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a toolkit for implementing Safe Routes to School.


Community Trail DevelopmentAdditionally, the action guide, Facilitating Development of Community Trail and Promoting Its Use to Increase Activity Among Youth and Adults, developed by Partnership for Prevention, provides information on the resources and key steps that will help facilitate the development of a community trail and promote its use among youth and adults. It translates a specific recommendation from The Guide to Community Preventive Services into "how to" guidance. Modifying the environments where people live and work is effective in helping people incorporate healthier behaviors into their daily lives. This can be done by creating new places for physical activity or enhancing access to existing places. Equally important, informational outreach activities promote the use of these places by raising awareness of their existence or providing guidance on how to use them. Although there are many options for modifying the environment to allow for increased physical activity, community trails have a unique advantage in that they can accommodate different types of physical activity by people of all ages.



Community WalkingIf you are interested in setting up a simple program for increasing community fitness, walking can be a good place to start. Establishing a Community-Based Walking Group Program to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth and Adults is an action guide that provides information on the resources and key steps to start a community-based walking group program.  








Both the Let's Move! Child Care initiative and Nickelodeon's World Wide Day of Play have acknowledged that excess TV time can interfere with kids getting enough physical activity. For the  Question of the Month for July, we want to know how you feel about TV.  Do you watch TV?  How much? How do you balance it with physical activity?  Click here to respond.


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Special Feature


They can do it, you can do it

Students from Gregory Elementary, one of the four participating schools in the West Orange County Boys & Girls Club Program, jump in celebration of their PALAs.
whistleAs two motivated counties have shown, the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) is for everyone.  Back in January, West Orange County in New Jersey along with PC Advocate CC Minton kicked off a PALA program for members of their Boys & Girls Club. By the time they concluded their program in April, they had doubled the number of participants, with over 70 students receiving their PALAs.  "We are so excited that students remained active," said John Peterson, Boys & Girls Club Director.  As part of the program, students took part in jumping jacks, sit ups, stretches, relay races, soccer, kickball and other cooperative team activities to earn their PALAs.  They all received recognition for their hard work in a PALA ceremony in May.



Miami Dade County in Florida also has an inspirational story.  They too held a PALA ceremony in May for 1,253 students, all of whom have a disability.  Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of PCFSN was there May 20 to present the certificates to each student.


In her post on the Let's Move! Blog, Pfohl wrote "Each student I met had a unique physical activity and healthy choices journey. Two very special students from G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School received their Presidential Champions Bronze Medals thanks to their physical education teacher diligently logging their activity minutes on the Presidents Challenge web site. My new friends David Quintero and Justin Velasquez shared with me the joy they found in physical activities such as tennis, basketball, sailing and kayaking, swimming, and flexibility training. All of these activities are adapted for the full inclusion of all individuals!"


I can do it, you can do it

PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl presents a PALA certificate to a student from Miami Dade County.

The students earned their awards as part of the I Can Do It, You Can Do It program, which is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to address the physical activity levels of youth with disabilities. Through this program, the students paired up with mentors who provided guidance on physical activities and making healthy eating choices.


Dr. Jane Greenberg, the District Administrator for Physical Education and Health Literacy at Miami Dade Public Schools played a big role in the success of the program.  The district has a strong commitment to ensuring every student has an opportunity to become healthy and physically fit.   


But the Miami Dade County Public School district is even more inspirational in that they adhere to this commitment despite having no budget for physical education.  The school system funds all their programming through the ambitious pursuit of grants and private industry contributions.


Students in these two counties did it, and so can you!  If you haven't already done so, you can earn your PALA and contribute to the Million PALA Challenge by simply completing 60 minutes of physical activity a day (for children 6-17) or 30 minutes a day if you're an adult, five days a week, for six weeks.  Sign up today!  



Check out our Advocate of the Month, BlazeSports America , which is a non-profit organization that creates community-based fitness programs for children and adults with physical disabilities.


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Guest Column


Movement as a means of enhancing lives of children with disabilities

Suzanne Gray
Suzanne Gray

I believe movement is the universal language that bridges barriers and enhances life.

Therefore, children with disabilities must have daily opportunities to participate in physical fitness activities within our schools and communities.  For the past 25 years, I have been teaching and developing exercise programs for children and adults of all ages (with and without disabilities). 


One of my favorite exercises is called "Raise the Bar." 


The essence behind this exercise is more than just a physical activity.  The spirited expression: "Raise the Bar! You will go far!" provides the participants with a goal and purpose. 



  1. Raise the BarPlace feet shoulder width apart place two marks where left and right foot should be placed).
  2. Hands grip stick. Palms facing down.
  3. Grip is placed shoulder width apart.
  4. Arms extend in front for initial starting position.
  5. Arms raise up over head to full extension.
  6. Arms raise back down to initial starting position.


"Raise the Bar! You're a Star!"  I say this as I place my hands over the top of the hands of a child with and without special needs participating in the first fitness class.  I look in their eyes, provide praise, and together we lift the stick up to full extension in the air.


"Raise the Bar! You'll go far!" I am introducing the first movements in a carefully designed progression of warm up exercises.  But my goal is not to just introduce him to an exercise.  I am providing him with the start of structure, power through personal interaction, a movement that targets and fires muscles in and around the shoulder girdle and most importantly introducing a playful and fun approach to an exercise. 


I like to introduce this exercise because of its simplicity to integrate in the child's daily life.  Children often have fun and find success in movement progressions and it provides immediate feedback to you and the individual performing the exercise.  Face to face, eye to eye, with smiles and touching hands, you and the child participating can assist each other to raise the bar higher every day!   


Families and teachers can easily incorporate this exercise into their daily morning routines. Children with disabilities engage with a large support system of parents, teachers, doctors and friends.  I am a firm believer that families that exercise together stay together.  Parents and teachers will need to set individualistic goals for the child and provide continuous assessment and review.


Every week I exercise with children with disabilities and I can see their progress as they continue to engage in daily fitness programs.  As the fitness classes/sessions end, I cannot measure their confidence, pride and joy but I can see they trust and believe we care. And each week I see the importance of play/movement for there are more smiles and more attempts to communicate, participate and complete their fitness stations.


Suzanne Moore Gray, M.S. is the CEO and founder of Right Fit Sport Fitness Wellness L.L.C. in Willowbrook, IL.  She has spent more than 30 years developing fitness programs for youth and adults with and without special needs.  Her business's programs have been implemented in community centers, schools and park districts across the country. Right Fit also provides intensive training for the nationally recognized Argonne National Laboratory as well as private and not-for-profit organizations that bring fitness awareness to people afflicted with Autism and Alzheimer's.  Their "Raise the Bar" program was designed specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.


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Featured Advocate of the Month


BlazeSportsBlazeSports America 

BlazeSports America supports the President's Challenge by sharing information on our programs with BlazeSports' network of community-based sports and fitness programs for children and adults with physical disabilities.  Additionally, they use the President's Challenge programs and resources in their programs for youth and adults with physical disabilities to encourage regular physical activity and good nutrition among this population.   


The BlazeSports America monthly newsletter includes information about the President's Challenge programs.  They have also featured the President's Challenge in their Guide to Disability Sport and Recreation, which you can download for free.


They offer all sorts of ways for you to get involved, whether you have physical disabilities or simply want to support the BlazeSports America mission.   



We would like to extend a special thanks to all of the President's Challenge Advocates. Please visit the Advocates section to see how companies, organizations and groups are making a difference with the President's Challenge.


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We hope you enjoyed this month's issue of Fitness is Fun.

As we begin to create our next issue, we would like to hear from you!

We welcome questions or comments regarding current content and are open to suggestions for future topics we should address. Inspiring stories are also appreciated and could become features in upcoming issues. 

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The Fitness is Fun staff
The President's Challenge

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