Nightly News | March 19, 2013
>>> our final story tonight is one of progress for all those school children who have no regular gym class . that's almost half by some estimates, in a nation fighting childhood obesity. tight school budgets and an increasing focus on academics are the reasons the experts cite. some communities are finding ways around it, helping kids learn and grow in a healthier way. the story from our chief education correspondent rehema ellis.
>> we want to go straight.
>> reporter: this may look like an outing for a boating club, but it's a public school gym class .
>> keep going!
>> you have to use your arms and it also helps you move your legs, too.
>> you live longer, stay healthy.
>> everything's fun.
>> reporter: in miami dade county where 14% of middle school students are obese, there is a new approach to physical education . triggering kids' interests.
>> i like the bikes.
>> reporter: to get them up, moving and healthy.
>> we are seeing kids over weight losing an average of eight pounds a semester. kids with eating disorders are putting on an average of two pounds a semester.
>> reporter: despite strained finances no money was no problem. why? nearly a decade ago the phys ed director asked for the help of parents, and superintendents and began raising money.
>> we have been able to secure outside grant money, community resources.
>> reporter: a school without a gym turned a classroom with worn out equipment into a wellness center with high tech , kid-friendly machines. there is dancing, rock climbing , stationery bikes with video games .
>> even if you're here, you're with your friends talking to them so you don't realize you're working out.
>> reporter: by all accounts the energy kids put into phys ed classes is making them better students.
>> any time there is a class after p.e. and phys ed the kids are more on task and more focused. that's a good thing.
>> reporter: shaping kids' minds and bodies.
>> i feel better. i feel good.
>> reporter: by giving them a place to move. rehema ellis, nbc news, miami.