After World War II, many Americans worried that US citizens, especially the young, were growing overweight and out of shape. Mechanization had taken many farmers out of the fields and much of the physical labor out of farm work. Fewer factory jobs demanded heavy labor.
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy took over a federal physical fitness program that was started and failed by Eisenhower, and he reorganized a new council to oversee the program for all Americans. In the process of taking over the federal fitness program, he made a challenge to high schools throughout the nation.
A nationwide problem was identified and a national response was developed through the resources of the federal government. The program produced a measurable improvement in fitness nationwide as well as a shift in public attitudes and wider participation.
While his Council On Youth Fitness did not actually have the authority to implement the national program, they did develop a curriculum with the help of major educational and medical institutions.
More than 240,000 copies of this program were distributed, and more than 250,000 students participated in the program, with dramatic results.
Three recommendations of the U.S. Physical Fitness Program were to identify the physically underdeveloped pupil and work with him to improve his physical capacity, provide a minimum of 15 minutes of vigorous activity every day for all students, boys and girls alike, and use valid fitness tests to determine pupil physical abilities and to evaluate their progress.
In the clip, you’ll see highlights of JFK’s speech, and how La Sierra High in California implemented the program.
What do you think of the physical fitness program that President Kennedy enacted in schools back in 1962? Should this be implemented? Use the comments section below and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!
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