FRANKLIN — Franklin Public Schools will celebrate Friday the opening of new fitness equipment and curriculum created to “physically educate” children in Franklin.

A grant awarded to Franklin Public Schools by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska brought the Project Fit America program to the school.

“Nebraska has seen an alarming increase in childhood obesity, a 16.9 percent increase in 2- to 4-year-olds,” said Kathy Nellor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s Health Transformation leader. “We’ve got to reverse that trend and create healthy lifestyles for our children.”

Research shows physical education improves reading and math skills. One study found kids scored higher on math and reading comprehension tests after exercising for 20 minutes. Exercise makes children more confident and sleep better, too.

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Project Fit America is a national nonprofit organization that creates sustainable and innovative broad-based fitness programs in schools. PFA programming includes state-of-the-art outdoor fitness equipment specifically designed to address the deficit areas where children fail fitness tests; indoor fitness equipment; a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges; on-site teacher training and in-class instruction on subjects such as smoking intervention, nutrition and understanding your body. Schools report increased motivation, participation and physical improvements in their students, along with parents and faculty becoming more involved in choosing fitness activities over sedentary lifestyle habits.

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