Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of people from going on “The Hill” to advocate for quality physical education. And, it seems to be working! Advocacy has helped provide federal funding for physical education and other important public health initiatives.
Two major organizations advocating for physical education are the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and AAHPERD (soon to be called SHAPE America).
The SFIA National Health through Fitness Day brings together approximately 150 leaders and 15-20 sports celebrities such as Herschel Walker, Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Peyton Manning, and Tim Brown, to fight for the Carol M. White Physical Education Act (PEP). Many physical educators and sporting goods companies have no idea how hard this group works to provide the only federal funding for physical education. Until you have been in a back room with Gary Player and hear the level of conversations with a Speaker of the House, it is hard to imagine all of the work, money and time that goes into keeping PEP grants funded and safe.
Last week, SPARK was on the Hill with SFIA and the celebrities showcasing quality physical education with local DC Public School (a SPARK district) students. We are proud to be sponsors and participants of this important advocacy day. And, if you haven’t seen the video of Herschel Walker doing a SPARK dance with the students yet, click here. This video has had over 1,600 views on Facebook! You can view more photos of the event on the SPARK Facebook page.
SPARK is in DC again this week for National Speak Out! Day hosted by AAHPERD. National Speak Out! Day provides a venue that encourages all of its members to be strong advocates for the profession and for children. AAHPERD members, sponsors, and associates storm the Hill to meet with their district or state representatives and share with them firsthand what is going on in their home towns. They share personal experiences, unintended consequences, successes, and possible solutions. Members advocate for PEP funding and other critical educational issues like educating the whole child. Educating legislators on quality physical education is essential to making an impact on the national policy landscape.
We all have to do our part to help policy makers understand the benefits of quality, daily physical education taught by credentialed specialists. We need YOU (teachers, administrators, parents, wellness professionals, etc.) to advocate on the Hill and/or your local governing bodies (School Board and State Legislators). Won’t you join us?
Here are some helpful hints:
- Make them smart, before you make them mad: Share the full truth, even if some of it is bad. You can advocate year-round by sharing issues on student health (obesity) in your district. Share the facts and results from your testing, especially now with student growth evaluations. You don’t always have to ask for something to advocate, as a matter of fact, true advocacy is not asking, but educating! We want decision makers to know the facts about your program and school district to help them make decisions. This gains their trust.
- Make friends before you need them: Provide success stories from your school and share them with your representatives. Send letters about your school that showcase the positive things you are doing with students. SPARK salutes all of these organizations and others who work hard on behalf of quality physical education programs and their teachers.
- Support your friends: Help friends who are advocating on your behalf. Especially AAHPERD and SFIA in their efforts on the national level, however, there are many others including state and local supporters you have and may not know. Seek them out and support them. Visit their websites and send letters.
SPARK is excited to actively support initiatives that support quality, daily physical education taught by credentialed specialists. Here are a few relevant examples.
1. Recently, publicity around the First Lady’s Lets Move! initiative has sparked enough interest that Let’s Move! Active Schools was created. This brought together organizations across sectors to increase physical activity in schools. SPARK signed on and is a supporting organization for Lets Move! Active Schools. We are excited and motivated to have pledged at least 800 schools to sign up and increase physical activity during school!
2. SPARK attended both SFIA and AAHPERD days on the Hill again this year, and plan to go every year! We sponsor and assist in demonstrations to showcase quality physical education. We speak to Legislators about what quality physical education looks like and how important it is. We provide success stories and call on them throughout the year through sign on letters and other advocacy efforts they provide.
3. SPARK feels so strongly about this, we created an Advocacy section on our website (under Resources). This page will assist you by providing videos, tools, links, and ideas on how to advocate for physical education and wellness programs. Please visit our advocacy page at http://www.sparkpe.org/physical-education-resources/advocacy/
SPARK is much more than our researched-based programs. SPARK is proud to invest money, staff and time to advocate for policies that support quality, daily physical education for all!
So, won’t you join us in advocating for physical education and student health?