This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
As my children get older I realize more and more how important being physically active on a daily basis really is. Both boys attend traditional public school which limits the amount of movement in classes, so having an opportunity to run and play at some point of the day is very important for them and for me as a parent.
Physical education is more than pulling on gym shorts and sweating for 1 hour a day. When PE is done regularly in school environments it addresses the needs of the whole child. It’s a key component to the total well-being of the child including healthy development for a successful future.
Children from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, through all grades, and in urban and rural settings benefit from physical education. That means parents and teachers need to advocate for more PE in our schools because of these key reasons.
PE Improves Judgement
Leads to Higher Test Scores
Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
Despite all the benefits, PE programs across the nation are decreasing at a drastic rate. I was shocked to find out that only 4% of elementary, 8% of middle and 2% of high schools provide daily physical education for the entire school year.
How does your school compare? In our local district, my son in elementary school has PE twice a week for less than an hour but has 20 minutes of recess daily. They also give 4th and 5th grade students an opportunity to be a part of a Marine Core group that meets twice a week in the morning. My middle school son has the opportunity to experience PE electives throughout the year and has opportunities in 6th grade to join in cross country and rock climbing club after school. In middle school I’ve found that most kids play on their phones or chat with friends.
As a parent and teacher I realize that kids are sitting far too much throughout the day. It starts way before the school bell rings while kids are glued to their electronic devices, watching TV or just hanging around. This is why as a parent I want to make sure my children are getting as much physical activity daily, and I’m not alone. Did you know that 95% of parents with children under the age of 18 think PE should be part of the school curriculum for all students K-12? Where do you stand on this issue?
Now what? As parents and educators we know how important physical activity is daily, but what can we do about it? If we feel our school isn’t doing as much as they could to provide physical activity daily, isn’t it our right as taxpayers to voice our concerns? Absolutely! I live in Pennsylvania and PE requirements are controlled locally through each individual district. That means I can voice my concerns through district wide board meetings and individual school meetings. You can also take it a step further.
Have you heard of ESSA? Me either, but now it’s in the forefront of my mind. ESSA stands for EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT. Under ESSA all states must develop a comprehensive plan to ensure all students in every district receives fair, equitable and high quality education. Unlike previous federal education laws, ESSA includes physical education and health as part of the “well rounded curriculum.” What does that mean for schools? Well, it means for the FIRST TIME EVER physical education programs in schools will have access to significant federal funding! This is HUGE, but there is a catch. It’s not mandated. This means that we, as individuals, need to band together and advocate as school communities for ESSA to include PE funding in our state’s plan. If not, PE programs will not have access to funding.
Join the Voices for Healthy Kids PE action team and connect with over 300,000 supporters across the nation that believe in the same thing you do. Let our voices be heard! Besides sharing this very informative article, you can also build your own campaign. It can be as easy and simple as spreading the word online or you can even alert the local media and communicate with state and local public officials to encourage policies that support improved health in your own communities. It’s easier than you might think. Remember this….
Coming together is the beginning;
Keeping together is the progress;
Working together is success!