Sue Fleming The Freer Press

Norman Thomas Elementary P.E. students from first through fifth grades are working hard to do their best when taking the Presidential Physical Fitness Test which is given each six weeks.

Levels of endurance, strength, agility and flexibility are measured by performing a certain number of sit ups, push ups and curl-ups as well as the shuttle run, according to instructors Rudy Leal and Aissa Utley.

"This is good for the students to do; we can see what level they've accomplished every time they're tested," Utley said. "I'm glad this program has been brought back."

Starting with the Presidential Physical Fitness Award in 1966, The President's Challenge has rewarded and motivated millions of youth. Today the Challenge includes four separate programs:

Physical Fitness test promotes a basic level of fitness among students. Health Fitness test encourages students to achieve a healthy level of fitness. Active Lifestyle program encourages students and adults to make activity part of their everyday lives. Presidential Champions program challenges students as well as adults to raise their activity and fitness to a whole new level.

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (or the PCPFS) strives to make the health and fitness of all Americans a top national priority.

The history of the Council dates back to 1956, when President Eisenhower initiated the first national testing program. Ever since, the Council has included some of America's most distinguished citizens as members. They hail from all walks of life: athletes, civic leaders, educators, businesspeople, health experts. Together they serve as a shining example, inspiring millions to live more active lives.

The mission of the PCPFS is to promote the benefits of fitness everywhere it can, from local communities all the way to the highest levels of government. That involves partnering with organizations across the country-including schools, boys and girls clubs, corporations and more.

Utley says students are awarded a tee shirt, patch or certificate for achieving a specific physical fitness level.

"The three levels are Average, National and Presidential," she said. "These kids are doing a good job and it'll be interesting later on to see how many make it to the top."