L.A. Schools Weigh Fitness Program

Bending and stretching, fifth-graders at Hancock Park Elementary School recently demonstrated a simple new exercise program for children that may be distributed throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The program, Kidfit, consists of a colorful wall poster that depicts kids doing the Kneet Stretch, the Skywalker and other stretching exercises, calisthenics and walking exercises, said Gail Weldon, a former Olympic trainer who developed the poster.

The messages are: "Look, you don't have to be good at basketball to be fit," and "You don't need to push to the point of incredible pain to be fit," she said.

The exercises take about 20 minutes and should be done three times a week, said Weldon, director of Fitness TRACC, a Mar Vista sports medicine and fitness facility.

Weldon, who has degrees in physical education and elementary education, has printed 3,000 posters, which she is offering for $3 each.

She noted that most Los Angeles elementary schools don't have physical education teachers, and that regular classroom teachers are responsible for fitness activities. She said the Kidfit regimen is easy and requires no equipment.

State test results released in November showed that most California children are out of shape. Statewide, only 15% of fifth-graders met at least four of the five fitness standards. Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District scored even lower, with only 6% of fifth-graders meeting four of the five standards.

Board of Education member Mark Slavkin is working on gauging teachers' receptivity to the poster and on ways to distribute it, said Slavkin aide Jeff Crain. "We know that we're doing too little in terms of physical activities . . . of our students," Crain said.

The Kidfit poster is available through Fitness TRACC, 12216 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles 90066.

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