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NikeGO and NHSA launch physical activity program for preschool children

CHICAGO, IL (14 March, 2005) – Today, Nike continues its mission of getting kids physically active by reaching out to young children with its latest NikeGO program – NikeGO Head Start – an initiative designed for preschool children and their families at Head Start sites throughout the country. Gold medal-winning soccer star Mia Hamm, along with U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, joined with children and their parents at the Casa Central Head Start program to launch this first-of-its-kind initiative.

In partnership with SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA), NikeGO Head Start brings a quality early childhood physical activity program to preschoolers in the Head Start community. With community receptions in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., NikeGO Head Start is piloting 80 programs in eight different cities this year (Anchorage, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orlando, Washington D.C., Portland, Chicago and New York), initially training 320 teachers to serve an estimated 30,000 Head Start preschoolers.

“Head Start is one of this nation’s most successful early childhood education programs. The goal is for NikeGO Head Start to enhance children’s love for physical activity, to involve their families in leading physically active lives, and to help prevent sedentary lifestyles before they ever take hold,” said Molly White, Director of U.S. Community Affairs at Nike. “The fact that 10 percent of preschoolers are overweight tells us that we need to do more to instill healthy choices into the lifestyles of young children and their families.”

This initiative builds on a six-year relationship between Nike and the National Head Start Association. Nike, currently the largest private funder of NHSA, will issue a series of one-year grants, with specific performance requirements, totaling $2.5 million over five years. Head Start instructors will receive a “playbook” of activities that are fun, inclusive, developmentally appropriate and aligned with Head Start Child Outcomes. From “Knees Up Mother Brown” to “Beanbag Boogie,” parents and children will learn how ordinary objects like socks and scarves can be used for movement and physical activity.

"Today, more than 10 percent of American children ages 2 to 5 are overweight, a trend that we can and must work together to reverse. Overweight children too often become overweight or obese adults - with greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems. Just as with every aspect of child development, we need to get our kids started down the right path as young as possible," U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said. "We must encourage healthy eating and help every child to be physically active for at least an hour a day. As we work with so many sectors of society to improve the health of all children during ?The Year of the Healthy Child,’ it's encouraging to see organizations like Nike and the National Head Start Association continue to step up for kids."

The children at the event had their very own personal trainer in Olympic Gold medal winner Mia Hamm, the national spokesperson for the NikeGO Head Start program, who joined SPARK trainers in the physical activity session for children at Casa Central Head Start.

“As a young girl, soccer was my way to express myself and experience the world around me,” said Mia Hamm. “I am proud to have the chance to pass on my love of physical activity with a younger generation of athletes.”

NikeGO Head Start understands how parents can play a critical role in raising healthy children and provides them with the resources to replicate the program’s activities in the home. In addition to receiving the Playbook and SPARK training, participating Head Start sites will receive Nike donated equipment necessary to implement the program – including parachutes, easy-to-catch balls, beanbags and balance beams.

“While Head Start is a Federal program, much of its success can be attributed to support from foundations, individuals and companies like Nike,” said Sarah Greene, President and CEO, NHSA. “Since 1965, Head Start has provided education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. We are very excited to introduce a new component in our comprehensive approach to empower community members to adopt lifelong wellness practices.”

NikeGO Head Start is one of several NikeGO initiatives designed to increase the participation of young people in physical activity as a means to improve their lives. These range from NikeGO Afterschool programs at Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs and local Parks and Recreation organizations, to collaborations with Indian Health Service to fight diabetes among Native American youth, to national and regional advocacy initiatives such as Shaping America’s Youth. Last year, NikeGO programs reached over 150,000 kids in 60 U.S. cities with ongoing, in-depth programs. NikeGO’s goal is to get kids active for at least 30 minutes at a time, several times a week, making sure every child feels successful and has fun in his or her activity.

About NikeGO NikeGO is Nike's signature U.S. community affairs initiative and the company’s long-term commitment to getting kids more physically active. The program's mission is to increase physical activity in youths, offering them the support and motivation to become physically active, stay healthy and have fun. In its most recent fiscal year, Nike contributed more than $10.5 million in cash and products and served more than 150,000 kids through its programs and partnerships. Visit www.nikego.com for additional information.

About SPARK SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) is a research-based physical activity program dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating programs that promote lifelong wellness. Visit www.sparkpe.org or call 1-800-SPARKPE or e-mail: spark@sparkpe.org for more information.

About NHSA The National Head Start Association is a private not-for-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. It represents more than 1 million children, 200,000 staff and 2,600 Head Start programs in the United States. The Association provides support for the entire Head Start community by advocating for policies that strengthen services to Head Start children and their families; by providing extensive training and professional development to Head Start staff; and by developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that enrich Head Start program delivery.