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Press Release

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Governor's Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Announces 2009 Fitness Challenge School Winners
~ Newly redesigned Governorís Fitness Challenge interactive Web site unveiled ~

www.GovernorsFitnessChallenge.com - www.HealthyFloridians.com

TAMPAó During a meeting of the Governorís Council on Physical Fitness, Governor Charlie Crist today recognized eight elementary schools and eight middle schools as the 2009 winners of the Governorís Fitness Challenge, an eight-week school-based program to help boost childrenís participation in physical fitness activities. Governor Crist also announced the launch of the new Governorís Fitness Challenge Web site and encouraged schools and students to participate in the 2009-10 Fitness Challenge.

ďI am committed to promoting healthy lifestyles for Floridians. As we begin another school year, it is important to remember the connection between a healthy lifestyle and student achievement,Ē said Governor Crist. ďBy emphasizing the importance of physical fitness, we can teach students how to make smart choices about exercise and nutrition that will improve their health throughout their lives.Ē

Eight public or private schools with at least 50 percent of students participating in the challenge were randomly selected to receive $2,500 to purchase sports or fitness equipment. Eight additional public schools that met the 50 percent participation requirement and also demonstrated improvement in studentsí fitness performance areas were randomly selected to receive $5,000. Activities for the Fitness Challenge were developed in conjunction with in-kind support from Titus Sports Academy, a sports conditioning and training center. A grant from SunTrust Banks of Florida Foundation provided the award funding for the winning schools to purchase sports or fitness equipment.

Winners of the 2009 Governorís Fitness Challenge are:

$5,000 School Recipients

  • Gemini Elementary, Melbourne Beach, Brevard County
  • Parkway Elementary, Miami, Miami-Dade County
  • Frontier Elementary, Loxahatchee, Palm Beach County
  • Freeport Elementary, Freeport, Walton County
  • Bell Middle, Bell, Gilchrist County
  • Cecil E. Gray Middle, Groveland, Lake County
  • Dunnellon Middle, Dunnellon, Marion County
  • Callahan Middle, Callahan, Nassau County

$2,500 School Recipients

  • Barbara Hawkins Elementary, Miami, Miami-Dade County
  • Manatee School of Arts & Sciences, Bradenton, Manatee County
  • Laurel Nokomis, Nokomis, Sarasota County
  • Westside Elementary, Daytona Beach, Volusia County
  • Nautilus Middle, Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County
  • Andover Middle, Miami, Miami-Dade County
  • Dowdell Middle, Tampa, Hillsborough County
  • McLaughlin Middle School & Fine Arts Academy, Lake Wales, Polk County

ďIt is wonderful this challenge sparked so many students to engage in physical activity,Ē said Shannon Miller, co-chair of the Governorís Council on Physical Fitness. ďI am glad we are able to reward these schools with funds for sports or fitness equipment that will allow additional opportunities for more students to be physically active during the coming school year.Ē

The Governor was joined for the presentation by council members, including chairman Derrick Brooks, All Pro Linebacker and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers captain; Olympic gold medalists Shannon Miller (gymnast), Jennifer Capriati (tennis), and Dr. Dot Richardson (softball); and Dave Andreychuk, captain of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.

About the Governorís Fitness Challenge Web Site

The interactive Web site, created through a grant from AT&T Foundation, will allow easier access for students to register for the Fitness Challenge, track their progress and see the results. This yearís challenge begins September 1, 2009, for elementary schools and November 18, 2009, for middle schools. Home schooled students are also encouraged to participate and will have increased access to the new Web site.

Throughout the school year, collegiate, professional and Olympian athletes and professional chefs will provide encouraging messages, theme-based activities, healthy recipes and safety tips on the Web site. Initial theme-based activities will be provided by Dave Andreychuk, Jennifer Capriati, Shannon Miller, Chef Emeril Lagasse, Kelly Slater, council member and nine-time world championship surfer, and Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox.

To participate in the Governorís Fitness Challenge or for more information, please visit the redesigned Web site at www.GovernorsFitnessChallenge.com.

About the Governorís Fitness Challenge

The Governorís Fitness Challenge aims to reach as many children as possible. The main activities and exercises of the eight-week challenge can be modified to accommodate students with special needs or disabilities. Homeschool students and students who attend a school that does not participate in the challenge can still participate individually. Assistance for modifying and implementing the program for these groups will be available throughout the challenge.

The Fitness Challenge program has been developed by the Executive Office of the Governor, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Education, Titus Sports Academy and the Governorís Volunteer Florida Foundation. This fitness challenge is not meant to replace any existing fitness programs, but to provide an additional opportunity for Floridaís students to develop healthy living habits.

About the Governorís Council on Physical Fitness

The Governorís Council on Physical Fitness is a partnership created by Executive Order 07-52. Comprised of 23 professionals with varying expertise from government, businesses, athletes, community organizations and private citizens, the council is chaired by Derrick Brooks, All Pro Linebacker and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers captain; and co-chaired by Shannon Miller and Tim Tebow, student and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the University of Florida.

The council was established to develop a state plan of action to increase physical fitness through regular exercise and sound nutrition practices among Floridians of all ages and to reduce the rate of obesity and resulting chronic diseases in Floridians within the next 10 years. The state plan of action contains 39 recommendations that address physical education in schools, improvement of school lunches, and enhancing the ability of Floridians to walk or bike to work and school. To learn more about the Governorís Council on Physical Fitness, please visit www.HealthyFloridians.com.