Global physical education experts converge in Grundy Center - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Global physical education experts converge in Grundy Center

GRUNDY CENTER (KWWL) -- This week, global leaders in physical education are meeting for a two day workshop. Their goal is improving the health of the world's youth. In the United States, only five states require P.E. class in all grades -- Iowa is among these few. Which is just one reason dozens of international delegates are meeting in our backyard.

Not only is Eastern Iowa hosting this international conference, they're meeting in Grundy Center -- a town with fewer than three-thousand residents. But this small community is making a big impact in the world of physical fitness.

"I've been the organizer of the first World Summit on Physical Education in Berlin in 1999, and the second one in Switzerland in 2005. And it is absolutely exciting to see that the ball keeps rolling," said Vice President of Education for the German Olympic Sports Confederation Dr. Gudrun Doll-Tepper.

These strong minds in physical fitness are in Iowa with a common goal -- to reform and revitalize health and P.E. programs.

"We have the data, we know that we have an increase in obesity," said Doll-Tepper.

"We gotta get the kids active, it's as simple as that," added Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports.

As this was a physical education forum, it should come as no surprise that the group quickly moved from presentations in the high school auditorium, into the elementary school gym. Which is where a class of kids gave the experts a lesson. They partner with the University of Northern Iowa in a groundbreaking program.

"It gets all the kids moving, all the time. So you won't see kids standing around, waiting their turn," explained Pfohl.

In the Grundy Center gym, technology and creativity keep kids engaged and active. For example, the youngsters wear a bracelet which monitors their heart rate, making sure they're getting a real workout. And you can tell, even these world-renowned scholars are impressed with what they see.

"This is what we want to tell the world -- see, it works! If all partners work together, I think it's to the benefit of all, in particular to the young children," said Doll-Tepper.

One of the goals is to get physical education on the political agenda in all of the twenty-five countries represented at the forum. Which in the United States means, mandating gym time for kids in kindergarten through high school and creating communities where fitness is a priority.

Doll-Tepper is aiming to bring the message from this conference back to Germany, and other countries, in as many ways as possible. She reminds folks, English is her second language. So she's hoping they'll be able to translate the information and create web, video, and written versions for publication.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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