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What Is the President's Challenge and Why Is It Important?

No, this isn’t another article about politics – thank goodness. As tired as you may be of hearing about the president, the President’s Challenge is something worth learning about. The program, and the awards that it gives out, might even be something you remember vaguely from your youth. So, what is it, and why does it matter to Americans?

The Presidential Challenge Programs

Although the Presidential Challenge used to stand as its own entity, the program underwent some changes in 2016. Now, it isn’t so much one specific challenge as it is a collection of programs headed up by the Presidential Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The President’s Council, which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services, works to educate the American public on healthy lifestyles through these programs, which include the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, the Presidential Champions program, and more.

The Presidential Youth Fitness Program

If your school was a participant, the Presidential Youth Fitness Program might be something you’re already familiar with. The program, which partners up with schools across America, aims to teach youngsters about active and healthy lifestyles. The Youth Fitness Program used to test students based on their athletic ability, but the program has shifted in recent years to focus less on results and more on giving students the tools to track and assess their own progress. As part of the program, educators receive tools and guides to help their students achieve their goals.

The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award

While the Youth Fitness Program is obviously geared toward young students, the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, also known as PALA+, is open for people of all ages. The program challenges participants to exercise for a certain amount of time each day and create new healthy eating goals. And as for the actual award itself? Participants who are successful in completing the program receive a certificate, but of course, the lessons learned from the program are the real rewards.

Presidential Champions

The President’s Council explains the Presidential Champions program as the next step for those who’ve successfully completed PALA+. While Presidential Champions is quite similar to PALA+, it’s all about reaching point goals rather than time-based goals. You earn points by logging your daily activity into the Department of Agriculture’s SuperTracker. Bonus: you can import your Fitbit data! Forty thousand points will earn you the Bronze Award, while one million will get you the Platinum. Thankfully, you have as much time as you want to achieve them. Once you’ve earned your award, the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition has a store that offers patches, medals, ribbons, and clothing recognizing each award level.

While the President’s Challenge programs might not seem like much, it’s about how much the participants put into them. And in times in which schools are shifting their focus away from physical education, many teachers across the country surely appreciate the tools these programs offer, as well as the motivation the awards may serve their students. It’s hard to argue with that!

[Image via Getty]

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