Shawn Johnson with Congressman Bruce Braley

WASHINGTON, DC, December 7, 2011 – Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, the 2008 Olympic balance beam champion and 2011 Pan American Games gold medalist, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa teamed up today to introduce the Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act, a bill that will combat childhood obesity by promoting the use of innovative technology to improve physical education programs in schools.

"To me, this is about finding new opportunities to get young people excited about fitness and exercise," Johnson said. "Kids of all ages use technology in their lives every day, from video games to iPods to cellphones. Using technology in PE class is the obvious next step, an opportunity to make exercise more fun for young people. And if we can do that, I think kids and teenagers will be more likely to go to the gym and make it a habit."

"Shawn Johnson has inspired countless young Iowans with her Olympic success," Braley said. "She’s inspired me with her work as an advocate for improved physical fitness. That’s why naming this bill the Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act is such a fitting tribute."

The Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act would expand to more local schools a physical education program pioneered by the University of Northern Iowa and the Grundy Center (Iowa) School District. Since 2004, UNI and Grundy Center Schools have partnered together to improve PE classes through the use of technology. The Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act would seek to expand this successful model by creating a grant program to fund 10 new masters’ degree programs that emphasize the use of technology in teaching. Universities receiving grants would partner with a local school district to implement the masters’ program. Funds could also be used to purchase equipment and technology to enhance physical activity and fitness levels.

More information about the bill, including the bill text, can be found at the following link: