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SGMA Pleased with Announcement of $75 Million in PEP Grant Awards for '08

Date: 7/16/08

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 16, 2008 – The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) would like to commend the U.S. Congress for its continued support of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). Today, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $73 million for 93 new PEP grants to schools and community based organizations in 46 states. The balance of the PEP grant funds – roughly $2 million – is being distributed to existing multi-year PEP grant recipients which were first awarded in 2006 and 2007. For a complete list of PEP grant recipients, please click here

PEP is a competitive grant program managed by the U.S. Department of Education. PEP grants are awarded to schools and community based organizations that provide quality P.E. and physical activity programs for America's youth. This funding is a top priority in SGMA’s commitment to provide quality physical education for America’s youth through schools and community based organizations.

Congress once again rebuffed the President’s recommendation to eliminate PEP and even increased funding to $75 million at a time when the Department of Education’s budget was targeted for cuts.

"The PEP program is a federally funded initiative that has worked since day one and continues to reap health care ‘dividends’ for children in the United States,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “As our childhood and adult obesity rates continue to climb, programs like PEP need to be implemented to help reverse those trends. Right now, it’s important that we inspire the younger generation to be active and be more health conscious. If we fail, this country will face a huge health care crisis in the not too distant future.”

Looking forward, members of the House and Senate members have formally requested $78 million in PEP funding for 2009, while the President’s 2009 Budget included no funding for PEP.

Since the initial PEP grants in 2001, more than $500 million in PEP grants have been awarded to school districts and community based organizations. PEP funds have successfully enhanced K-12 physical education and community-based organizations’ physical activity programs across the country. PEP grants are used for training in state-of-the-art health and wellness-based physical educations methods; the addition of new technology such as heart-rate monitors and pedometers; and the acquisition of innovative P.E. equipment such as elliptical machines, treadmills, rock climbing walls and stationary bikes.

The integration of new thinking, new products, and new technology form the platform on which today’s quality PE programs are built.

The main base of support for PEP is generated by National Health-through-Fitness Day which takes place in early March in Washington, D.C. SGMA organizes this day-long lobbying effort which features well known athletes, sporting goods manufacturers, sports retailers, health care leaders, concerned citizens, association leaders, P.E. teachers and other physical education advocates. The goal of this initiative is for SGMA members and PE partners to have one-on-one discussions with members of Congress and their legislative aides about this national youth fitness issue. SGMA’s key supporters in pushing for passage of PEP include PE4life, NASPE, Outdoor Industry Association, IHRSA, NSGA, National Coalition to Promote Physical Activity, and the National Recreation and Parks Association.

When children are given access to PEP-backed P.E. programs in schools, there are many beneficial side effects such as increased academic performance, lower absenteeism in schools, reduced childhood obesity rates, fewer instances of disruptive behavior, and more attentive students in the classroom.

“For the future of this country, it’s imperative that we invest in improved fitness today or risk a tremendous health care burden in the years to come,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s director of government relations. “If we ignore the obesity problem, the Center for Disease Control projects healthcare spending in the U.S. will rise to $4 trillion by 2015 (20% of GDP). As a nation, we cannot afford to spend one of every five dollars on health care expenses. If we continue to support initiatives like PEP, it will help America avoid that negative scenario."

Since the PEP Bill was passed by Congress in 2001, more than 1,000 PEP grants have been awarded across the country. In Fiscal Year 2001, the PEP Bill was approved for $5 million. In FY 2002, Congress allotted $50 million; $60 million in FY 2003; $70 million in FY 2004; $73.4 million in FY 2005; $72.7 million in FY 2006; $72.7 million in FY 2007 and $75 million in 2008.

The future of the PEP Bill is very positive as the House Appropriations Committee for the Department of Education has included $78 million in its budget for FY 2009.

For additional information on 2007 PEP Grant recipients or any questions about the PEP program, please contact SGMA’s Bill Sells at 202-349-9417 or bsells@sgma.com.

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