This is a sponsored post with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Any opinions are 100% my own.
There some things you could argue that schools don’t need. Vending machines and outrageously useless fundraisers are on that list for me. What is not on that list is PE. Physical education shouldn’t be something on the chopping blocks for schools. I was slightly overweight as a child and know how important it is for kids to stay active, and sometimes PE is the only activity they get. Sad, but true. That is just 1 of 3 reasons PE is needed in schools.
3 Reasons PE is Needed in Schools
#1 Physical Activity
If you think about it, PE is about 30 minutes out of the day where you can give it your all, break a sweat, AND have a ton of fun with your friends in school. That time makes a tremendous amount of difference in a day that is already spent mostly sitting at a desk. Research shows kids need 60 minutes of physical activity per day and PE programs can help get them there. I truly think that if it wasn’t for PE as a child, I would have been even more overweight and wouldn’t have had any desire to take on boot camps and kickboxing as an adult to help me shed weight.
#2 Fostering and Finding New Interests
My oldest two children are now experiencing PE in different ways. My 10 year old is in his last year in elementary school, where PE classes focus on activity and fundamentals. PE has helped him become a better basketball player and find new things he enjoys like four-square, that is quickly replacing his video game time.
#3 Building Confidence
My daughter is in her freshman year in high school, where they can pick specific types of PE classes. She went out of her comfort zone and chose weight lifting this past trimester. In the beginning she doubted herself and lacked confidence when it came to lifting. By the end, she could dead lift her weight at least once, and her legs are stronger which helps for Pointe classes at dance. She was so proud of herself and has gained a bit more confidence overall and I credit that to her PE class, because PE addresses the needs of the whole child, positively impacting their physical, mental, and emotional health.
Kids shouldn’t have to miss out on the benefits of PE because of where they live. Unfortunately racial inequalities and socio-economic challenges leave many schools without resources for PE. Every Student Succeeds Act is a federal education law that requires all states to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure all students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. Physical education should be a part of every state’s ESSA plan and the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative advocated for that.
You may recall the passage of the federal education bill at the end of 2015, and that leaves us in a very important position as parents. We can help drive awareness of the need for local and state action on PE, as State Departments of Education prepare their plans. Unlike previous federal education laws, ESSA includes PE and health as part of a “well-rounded curriculum”. That means for the first time ever, health and PE have access to significant federal funding! The thing is, the inclusion of health and PE is not a mandate in ESSA so that states don’t have to fund it. We need to advocate for daily PE to be included as a core component in ESSA plans so that money can be accessed for PE. If PE is not included in the plan, it won’t have access to funding.
Protect PE by joining the PE Action Team –> VoicesForHealthyKids.org/PE
Learn how you can work to increase PE in your community and get a toolkit –> PhysicalEducation.VoicesForHealthyKids.org