Fact Sheet: President Clinton Honors Olympic and Paralympic Athletes and Takes Steps to Promote Physical Activity Among America's Youth (11/29/00)
|                                                                         |
|                   STEPS TO PROMOTE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY                    |
|                          AMONG AMERICA?S YOUTH                          |
|                            November 29, 2000                            |
|                                                                         |

Today at the White House, the President will honor the U.S. Olympic and
Paralympic athletes for their achievements at the 2000 Summer Games in
Sydney, and emphasize the importance of physical fitness for all Americans,
particularly youth.  In conjunction with today?s program, the President is
releasing a report from the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the
Secretary of Education, which identifies ten strategies to promote better
health among young people through increased participation in physical
activity and sports.  Today Secretaries Donna Shalala and Richard Riley
also will convene a roundtable with various public and private partners,
including the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), to discuss ways of
implementing the strategies in the report.

Honoring U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Athletes.  Today the President will
welcome members of the 2000 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams to the White
House to congratulate them for their success at the 2000 Summer Games in
Sydney, Australia and honor them for their commitment to their country and
the pursuit of excellence in sports.  Made up of the nation?s most
accomplished athletes, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams are both a
source of great pride and an inspiration for all Americans. The U.S. Teams
triumphantly represented the United States, winning 97 Olympic and 109
Paralympic medals and upholding our nation?s historic record of Olympic
achievement.  Placing first overall with 39 gold medals, 25 silver and 33
bronze, the U.S. Olympic Team, with the second largest delegation, exceeded
international expectations, with major achievements in the areas of
swimming, track and field, basketball, and Greco-Roman wrestling to name
but a few disciplines.  The U.S. Paralympic Team, the largest U.S.
delegation to compete outside the United States, totaling 256 athletes,
placed third in medal standings -- finishing strong with 36 gold medals, 39
silver medals and 34 bronze medals.

Strategies to Promote Physical Activity Among Young People. Physical
activity is important not just for elite athletes, but for the health of
all Americans. Low physical activity represents one of the leading health
risk factors facing the U.S. population, and key trends highlight the
challenges facing the nation.  The percentage of young people who are
overweight has doubled since 1980.  Yet the percentage of high school
students enrolled in daily physical education classes has declined 30
percent between 1991 and 1999. Today the President is releasing a report by
the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services to encourage
young people to participate in physical activity.  This report was
submitted to the President in response to a directive he issued in June at
the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, and brings together
for the first time in one document a comprehensive agenda to promote
physical activity and sports among young people through strategies such as,
strengthening school physical education programs; enhancing community
sports and recreation programs; and redesigning communities to facilitate
walking and bicycling. The President also will encourage the U.S. Olympians
and Paralympians to help carry the message that physical activity is
important to young people, families, and schools back home in their

Secretaries? Roundtable and Next Steps in Promoting Physical Activity.  In
a meeting at the White House today, Secretaries Shalala and Riley will hear
from interested public and private partners on ideas and plans for
implementing the strategies recommended in the report.  With the National
Conference on Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Conference taking
place today and tomorrow, and the Surgeon General?s Conference on Obesity
next week, several steps are already underway to highlight the issues
outlined in the report.  However, the report?s strategies involve not just
federal action, but commitment and participation throughout the nation,
including parents, teachers, coaches, schools, communities, and the private

Today?s meeting will mark the start of some key partnerships needed to
carry out the recommended strategies. Building on past collaboration with
HHS and Education, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers? Association will work
with industry partners to launch a national promotion campaign to inspire
youth to participate in physical activity and influence parents and school
officials to make physical education available in the schools.  USOC will
expand the focus of its Champions in Life program, which brings Olympic
athletes into the schools, to advance the goals of the report and encourage
schools to restore quality physical education to the curriculum.  Also the
National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity will partner with HHS
and Education to convene the participants in today?s meeting, as well as
other interested parties, in order to launch an ongoing public-private
working group, to carry forward the work begun today.

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