Obesity, physical education and sports... hmmm?

As a Physical Education teacher at SoHi and Skyview for 30 years, I read with great interest the recent Clarion article “Board sees obesity study results.” As our nation ponders how to pay for an unimaginable health plan, it stirred passions of my own teaching experiences and my relationship with students as we innocently fought the ravages of obesity 45 minutes per day, five days per week and had a blast doing so. Fond memories of my own children having P.E. more than twice per week and participating in organized sports at the elementary school were apparently luxuries that I naively took for granted. With the advent of No Child Left Behind, these programs were trimmed to make room in the curriculum for remedial and credit recovery. If the curriculum has been fattened with these courses, it should be no surprise it was at the expense of our children’s health. In this regard, perhaps it was No Child Left Ahead.

The quiet disappearance of our Physical Education minutes per day and the removal of competitive sports programs has shown itself to be a big, fat mistake that we should undo. The hallmark of the public school system in America is the efficient delivery of essential skills to the masses. At the top of the essentials list must be personal health, and sadly, we have pushed it aside. The Kenai Peninsula School District has the personnel and facilities to make a positive impact, and must re-double efforts committing itself to a daily K-12 curriculum of organized Physical Education and sports delivered by trained professionals.

In Alaska, it is best for students to get their activity in our brightly lit gyms, pools and fields. It is improper to believe that outsourcing physical activity to the Boys and Girls Club has the same results. I urge parents, administrators and school board members to have an uplifting conversation about getting our kids sweaty on a daily basis. Bye-bye obesity study, hello healthy Alaskans! Let’s get P.E. five days per week for every student even if we need to stretch the school day. A comprehensive sports program at the elementary level needs to return. Soccer, flag football, basketball, volleyball and track with full fledged academic and citizenship requirements to participate can only improve student performance and school pride. Start keeping score and you will see what happens. Sport instills self esteem, discipline and respect for yourself and others. Getting supported by students, staff and community are powerful incentives to be active and put your best foot forward. Showing students by our own healthy lifestyle, the programs we provide and the high expectations we have for them is a powerful statement we must make. The statements we make through our inaction our understood as well. Please call me when the Redoubt Roadrunners play the Soldotna Elementary White Sox (in any sport). It’s a game we all should hope for.

OK everybody ... drop and give me 20!

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