Supported by more than 80 of the Bronx’ school principals, on Thursday, May 22, Carrion introduced “More Than Child’s Play – The Need for Improved Physical Education Policy and Infrastructure in Bronx Public Schools” during monthly borough community board meeting.
“In order to assure a healthy future for our youth, the Department of Education must take a proactive role in addressing the lack of adequate physical education in our public schools,” Carrion said about the report that calls for the DOE to provide appropriate funding to upgrade or create sufficient gym and recreational space in all Bronx public schools.
After surveying all of the borough’s principals about their physical education programs, results from more than 200 schools showed poor and alarming results.
The report states that 70% of Bronx schools surveyed stated that their physical education didn’t meet the state’s requirement for at least one hour of activity each week.
More surprisingly, 91% of the elementary schools surveyed also came up short.
“The DOE has both a legal and moral obligation to ensure that students have access to sufficient physical education programs and appropriate facilities, however, too many Bronx schools are unable to meet their obligations,” Carrion explained, referencing that 23% of schools surveyed lack gymnasiums, of which 43% don’t have a certified physical education teacher.
Also inadequately prepared are the 82% of schools surveyed that share gyms and suffer from overcrowding, with more than 50 students in each physical education class.
Carrion made a point to speak of how such deficiencies are a critical component to the health of the borough’s youth.
While the Bronx continues to entertain the highest obesity rate in New York, with approximately 42% of the borough’s elementary students overweight or obese, Carrion said there’s no room for debate – the DOE must make changes, and soon.
With 24% of Bronx students in kindergarten through fifth grade weighing in at obese levels, accompanied by another 18% that are overweight, Carrion said much more than their health is at risk.
“The negative impacts of obesity on a person’s health and quality of life are immense,” he said. “Because of obesity, many New York City students are also at risk of suffering from low self esteem, social isolation, violence from peers and even lower academic achievement.”
To combat such hardships, Carrion is demanding the DOE provide funds in the 2010-2014 Capital Plan to build gyms for schools with overcrowded facilities as well as for schools that lack gyms altogether with the ultimate goal of having every school meets the state’s requirement for physical education.