Feature Article - June 2008
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School Days

The top 10 amenities school respondents said their facilities were planning to add over the next three years included:

  1. Bleachers and seating
  2. Synthetic turf sports fields
  3. Fitness centers
  4. Locker rooms
  5. Classrooms or meeting rooms
  6. Natural turf sports fields
  7. Concession areas
  8. Outdoor running tracks
  9. Outdoor sports courts
  10. Playgrounds

Within their facilities, schools also offer the programs one would typically expect, including youth sports teams, daycare or preschool programs, sports tournaments and races, fitness programs and individual sports activities like running. The top 10 programs currently offered among schools in our survey were:

  1. Youth sports teams, offered by more than half (50.9 percent)
  2. Daycare and preschool programs, offered by more than half (50.9 percent)
  3. Sports tournaments and races, offered by nearly half (45.7 percent)
  4. Fitness programs, offered by more than a third (35.8 percent)
  5. Individual sports activities, offered by nearly a third (32.9 percent)
  6. Swimming (30.1 percent)
  7. Sport training (28.9 percent)
  8. Special needs programs (24.9 percent)
  9. Day camps and summer camps (24.3 percent)
  10. Performing arts (23.7 percent)

The programs most commonly planned for addition included:

  1. Youth sports
  2. Fitness
  3. Sports tournaments and races
  4. Sport training
  5. Day camps and summer camps

Youth sports and fitness both offer outlets to help combat the childhood obesity epidemic, cited as a concern by several respondents.

One athletic director from a school district in New York said, "BMIs for elementary students are very high. We are actively exploring resources to help combat this."

Another said childhood obesity was the top problem. "We don't currently offer these programs, and the schools appear to be cutting these programs due to budget cuts."

According to a 2000 study of public and private schools by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8 percent of elementary schools, 6.4 percent of middle schools and 5.8 percent of high schools provided daily physical education.

This is despite the fact that recommendations from major medical associations such as the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that time spent in activity is critical to kids' health.