CHAMPAIGN — Students who go to Champaign schools will next year use software that tracks their personal fitness.
And, it just so happens that the software, called Fitnessgram, is published and distributed by Champaign-based Human Kinetics.
The Champaign school district will receive the software as a part of a grant to help it implement the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
Trevor Nadrozny, Champaign's director of curriculum, said a grant will pay for all of Champaign's schools to use the Fitnessgram software. It will also save the district about $10,000 in professional development and curriculum costs, Nadrozny said, which can instead be used on other programs or equipment.
The program allows for collecting students' fitness data, not just once but over time, Nadrozny said, and will give teachers the ability to gauge students' fitness levels.
It will also allow students to set fitness goals for themselves.
"It's more focused on health and wellness," he said.
Champaign is one of the first districts in the country to receive the software through a grant, according to a news release.
The Presidential Youth Fitness Program was launched last September by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and first lady Michelle Obama. It promotes fitness and physical activity to improve the health of young people in the United States.
Program participation is free, but the grant Champaign received "will enhance the program experience for all Unit 4 physical education teachers and their students by providing Fitnessgram software, virtual training courses for physical educators and recognition items for students," according to the news release.
The General Mills Foundation provided a six-year, $10 million dollar grant to help schools around the country implement the program.
Champaign-based Human Kinetics is the publisher and exclusive distributor of Fitnessgram, and the author is The Cooper Institute of Dallas, said Scott Wikgren, the company's vice president and director of the health, physical education, recreation, and dance division.
He said it's exciting to see that the Champaign schools will use it.
"We are well-known around the world for our work in the physical-education field, but we certainly want to do right by our local community, and so it's great that the Champaign schools were approved with such an exciting program that we publish," Wikgren said.
Human Kinetics does editing, design, software development and support, marketing, sales, fulfillment and more for Fitnessgram.
"The Fitnessgram program has been around for over 30 years, and (Human Kinetics) has been involved for about 15 years now," Wikgren said.
Champaign Superintendent Judy Weigand said she's proud the district's schools were selected for the grant.
"Districtwide involvement reinforces the importance of our physical education teachers and the role they play in promoting the health and well-being of our students and helping them to be fit and ready to learn," Wiegand said in the release.
Wendy Starwalt, who is Champaign's coordinator of elementary physical education, said the software emphasizes personal achievement, rather than competitive performance, when measuring health.
"The Fitnessgram software will enable our teachers to assess every student in the district annually, and every student and their parents will receive a Fitnessgram report card," Starwalt said."The information will also be used to drive instruction in physical education and activity within the overall school day."
Teachers in Champaign will start using the software this fall.