SGMA to march up Capitol Hill for annual P.E. Day

With budget cuts looming, the SGMA is once again climbing Capitol Hill in support of physical education to carry the message that it is crucial in the nation's fight against obesity and inactivity. That's the message the SGMA and its member companies will deliver to members of Congress on May 3-4 during P.E.4LIFE's fifth annual National P.E. Day activities in Washington, D.C.
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With budget cuts looming, the SGMA is once again climbing Capitol Hill in support of physical education to carry the message that it is crucial in the nation's fight against obesity and inactivity. That's the message the SGMA and its member companies will deliver to members of Congress on May 3-4 during P.E.4LIFE's fifth annual National P.E. Day activities in Washington, D.C.

During the lobbying efforts on "the Hill," attendees will be briefed on key issues and messages. Then they will be divided into small groups, with each group meeting that day with U.S. representatives and senators. The goal is to whip up enough energy and enthusiasm to garner increased congressional support for the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Bill. By day's end, the goal is to conduct more than 100 meetings with representatives, senators and their staffs.

"Everybody is divided into groups of two to four people. Each group has three to four legislative pre-assigned meetings with representatives and Senate staff, lasting about 20 to 30 minutes," Mike May, SGMA's spokesperson, told SNEWS®. "During the morning briefing session, we teach everybody what to say in each meeting so everybody is on the same page."

The main lobbying day will be May 4. As in past years, the delegation of P.E. lobbyists will include sporting goods manufacturers, sports retailers, a smattering of fitness-specific suppliers, association leaders, friends of the industry and well-known sports celebrities. Last year, some of the more prominent sports personalities included tennis great Billie Jean King, former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker and boxing champ James Leija. This year, football legend-in-the-making Peyton Manning and soccer star Mia Hamm are both expected to join the event and will be autographing replica jerseys from the silent auction.

It may take all that star power and more as in President Bush's Fiscal Year 2006 budget, he has proposed a $19 million cut in the PEP Bill -- from $74 million in FY 2005 to $55 million in FY 2006. Bush further proposes that the PEP Bill be cut from the federal budget altogether by FY 2008 because he wants to allocate the funds to "other priorities."

"While the industry is pleased to see that the president has included the PEP Bill in his current budget, the industry will be lobbying quite aggressively for the PEP Bill for this year and in future years," Tom Cove, SGMA's president, said in a statement. "The value of the PEP Bill can be measured in ways beyond the funds. The existence of the bill sends a message to communities across this country that daily physical education is a priority for our school children."

There will be a reception on May 3 from 6-7 p.m. in the Cabinet Room of the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, which will be followed by the P.E.4LIFE Awards Dinner from 7-9 p.m. in the East Room of the Mayflower Hotel, which will be used for additional fund-raising. Sign up for that event by clicking here.

The lobbying activities on May 4 will conclude with a "Celebration Reception" at the ESPN Zone (555 12th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.) from 4-6 p.m.

To participate in National P.E. Day lobbying activities, contact SGMA's Washington office, 202-775-1762 or register online by clicking here. The registration deadline has been extended to April 13. For general information about PE4Life and its activities, go to www.pe4life.org.

SNEWS® View: Although the SGMA this year has scheduled a fitness-specific lobbying event (Sept. 20-21), in the past both SNEWS® and a few select fitness suppliers have participated in the PE Day rally and lobbying events. If you can't attend the September event, and particularly if you are in the D.C. area or on the East Coast, consider attending this one instead. Supporting physical education is supporting fitness since an active kid has a better chance of becoming an active, healthier and fit adult -- an adult who may want your equipment. In addition, if you have never attended a lobbying event on the Hill, find one and do it. It's an education about our country's political workings and how you really can make a difference.

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