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$12 Million Head Start Grant Awarded to NASPE and AAPAR

The largest AAHPERD award ever received, a $12 million, four-year grant to NASPE and AAPAR from the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was announced October 6 by Daniel Schneider, J.D., Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.

Released at the 80th celebration of National Child Health Day, the grant will help prevent overweight and obesity among young children in Head Start programs nationwide by creating Head Start Body Start: The National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play at the AAHPERD headquarters in Reston, VA. The National Center is a key component of the Surgeon General’s Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative.

The nation’s 900,000 Head Start children, as well as their families and staff, will benefit from the Center’s broad range of services aimed at increasing physical activity, outdoor play, and healthy eating. Programs will be supported with training, technical assistance, and grants of up to $5,000 to local Head Start centers to improve their playgrounds and outdoor play spaces. Head Start Body Start will also provide information and support to ACF’s Office of Head Start for setting national priorities and developing policies.

According to Schneider, “This center and the work that it performs will have a major impact on the future health of our nation’s children.” Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H.; Health Resources and Services Administrator Elizabeth Duke, Ph.D.; and Acting Director of the Office of Head Start Patricia Brown joined Schneider for this announcement at the Rosemount Center, a Head Start center in Washington, D.C.

Speaking at the press conference NASPE Executive Director Charlene Burgeson said, “NASPE and AAPAR are ready to mobilize and serve, and do our very best to help with the physical education of our nation’s children. We are excited about increasing the knowledge, skills, and confidence of Head Start staff about facilitating physical activity, increasing daily activity levels and decreasing overweight and obesity among the children.”

AAPAR executive Director Mariah Burton Nelson added, “Through this partnership, almost a million children will receive not only a head start, but a “body start”; not only academic preparation but physical preparation. Our nationwide network of physical educators, playground specialists, safety and risk management experts, and program evaluators will not only help reduce obesity, but also help prepare children for a lifetime of health, fitness, and fun.”

The Center will help Head Start evaluate its play spaces and educate children and their families about the value of physical activity and healthy eating. In addition, the Center will assist Head Start programs in creating healthy learning environments, both in and outside the classroom, through structured and unstructured physical activity that leads to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of young children.

NASPE and AAPAR are uniquely qualified to create and manage Head Start Body Start: The National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. As national professional associations, both organizations have a proven track record of providing resources and trainings that are based on current research and best practices. They are committed to identifying and promoting a full range of high quality resources and partnerships in order to provide state-of-art information and services.

A 16-member Advisory Board comprised of professionals from a range of cultural, linguistic, geographic, and economic backgrounds will provide guidance on the direction and progress of the project. NASPE and AAPAR members on the Advisory Board include: Melinda Bossenmeyer, Linda Carson, Jane Clark, Rhonda Clements, Diane Craft, Janet Fulton, and Marybeth Lima.

AAPAR/NASPE member Paul Wright of the University of Memphis will provide a full evaluation to determine the effectiveness of the Center’s initiatives.

NASPE/AAPAR members Clersida Garcia, Meg Greiner, Kristi Mally, Rae Pica, and Steve Stork will serve as Master Trainers. Hundreds of other NASPE and AAPAR members will have opportunities to serve as consultants.

Visit the NASPE and AAPAR Web sites to stay abreast about the Center’s newest efforts.

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