RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Advocates for P.E. in schools gathered at the A.E. Finley YMCA in Raleigh Thursday.
Organizers with the North Carolina Alliance for Health say P.E. addresses the obesity crisis gripping our country and helps improve academic achievement. And many say budget cuts threaten P.E. programs.
In April, North Carolina lawmakers passed a House Bill 13 compromise they say reduces class sizes for K-3rd grades for the next two years and prevents cutting P.E. and special subject area teachers. Still, some say budget cuts often translate into cutting P.E. teachers.
"I think PE is one of the first things that gets cut in our schools when they're trying to keep class size down and they're trying to meet requirements that are set by the state for test scores and those types of things," said mother Kim Keith, who also works for the YMCA. "I think principals and teachers are doing their absolute best they can and I think they prefer their students have PE but sometimes they have to make hard choices."
Keith's son, Owen, spoke at the news conference. The fifth grader said he doesn't have P.E. at his school, Endeavor Charter School.
"Kids think P.E. is fun and teachers agree that it helps kids focus on the rest of their school work," Owen Keith said.
Retired Army Brigadier General Blake Williams said at the news conference that obesity is one reason 72 percent of 17 through 24-year-olds in North Carolina can't serve in the Armed Forces.
Those at the news conference say P.E. in schools will teach kids healthy habits they'll use the rest of their lives.
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