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      Lawmakers push for physical education requirements to combat child obesity

      M ichigan lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would set a minimum requirement for phy s ical education in grades K-8.

      M ichigan lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would set a minimum requirement for phy s ical education in grades K-8.

      T he goal is to help combat the nation's growing child obesity problem.

      "I f you can start at a young age and keep their interest going as they get older than they can understand important physical activity is ," Mike Loper, Ottawa Elementary School teacher said.

      E ach student at Ottawa Elementary School in Petoskey gets 60 minutes of gym class and 100 minutes of recess each week, but that might not be the case for students in a neighboring district.

      "I think what we have in place is doing its job well ," Carol Thola, Ottawa Elementary School Principal said.

      R ight now there are no laws requiring schools to provide a certain amount of physical education each week for grades K-8.

      H ouse Bill 5196 would change that.

      I t would require schools to provide 90 minutes of gym class and 60 minutes of recess to K-5 students each week. And one semester of 45 minute classes 5 days a week for 6-8 grade students.

      "T hat would be very difficult for scheduling purposes and for current staffing th at most districts have ," Thola said.

      O ttawa Elementary School would have to add a 30 minute class for each child.

      "M ost elementaries run very tight from bell to bell with their physical education as it is right now ," Thola said.

      Thola doesn't think a law is the answer to childhood obesity.

      S he thinks it comes down to the individual efforts of parents and her staff.

      "M y teachers have been doing a lot to learn about different physical activities they can do in the classrooms," Thola explained. "Brain games and brain gym and some of the other activities that are out there that help students learn."

      A t this point the bill is being reviewed by the House Education Committee.