April 26, 2010

Support Physical Education In Schools

The current focus on obesity in children and teens has
society creating a national focus and governmental efforts
to get parents informed about the physiological, emotional
and psychological dangers of obesity in children and teens
which transfers to adulthood.

Prevailing understanding for the increase of obesity is two
primary factors; first, children and teenagers are not eating
the right kinds of foods, second; children and teens are
getting less exercise. Environmental circumstances and the
increased infusion of technology in daily lives contributes
to factors as the access to computers; gaming systems and
interactive television with access to more channels of
programming draws more attention from physical activity
outside of the home to a sedentary life style.

The goal should be reinforce the Physical Education
programs in elementary and middle schools nation wide.
Millions of dollars in advertisement, public service
announcements, sports stars talking about being active
and getting fit, interactive games that promote exercise
are inundating television, radio and online networks.

President Obama established a Task Force on Childhood
Obesity with a goal to “solve the problem of childhood
obesity within a generation...”
The First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a campaign
against childhood obesity. Her focus on this issue has
drawn national and international attention. “Let's Move”;
a nationwide effort to solve the obesity epidemic.
There are educated professionals already trained,
educated and motivated on station at schools throughout
this country.

If serious consideration is taken into account for
addressing obesity then serious action should be properly
funding the physical education programs at schools.
The misconception is that PE is Play Education, Ignorance
creates a false and dangerous prejudgment that those that
teach physical education are not educated professionals.
P.E. teachers are required to take not only educational
courses, but courses that are in the scientific and medical fields.

Physical Educators (men and women) are not just “dumb jocks” as
some people say, even our educational peers in the classroom
and some administrators are at times ignorant to the educational
requirements to be a professional physical educator and the
responsibility to educate and empower children and teens.
Physical Educators are required to be certified teachers and
many have certifications in other areas of education especially
in leadership.

In this time of educational budget cuts PE is sometimes on
the budgetary chopping block, but local and national school
district administrators and legislative members should
understand that not only are the physical needs addressed
in the physical education classes, but the self esteem,
self confidence and personal motivation of children and teens.

We may never know how many students attribute their success
in school and being able to graduate because their PE teacher
motivated them to press forward in the classroom. Through
personal observation and involvement with students that
are overweight from either medical conditions
(thyroid, diabetes, etc), the taking of medications and
genetic factors play some part in the development of
obesity in children and teens. Obese children are teased,
bullied and made to feel inferior physical educators turn
these feeling around to motivate students to work to
improve their physical conditions for a life time.

PE teachers are an important role in schools by encouraging
students, motivating them to be concerned and aware of
their physical nature, benefits of healthy eating habits,
health hazards to improper eating, the dangers of drugs
and alcohol. The importance of a good diet and exercise
not just through sports, but life long physical exercise
and even addressing sex in health education classes.

PE teachers encouraged, motivated and even made students
exercise for their benefit. PE teachers are often the first
person that children and teens talk to about sex, drugs,
and alcohol before they talk to their parents. There is a
trust and connection between students and their PE teacher.
Students feel they will not be judged, teased or put down,
because of emotional changes and the physical changes of
puberty. Sometime parents reaction and denial of their
child’s maturity and growth can dissuade open dialogue
and cause their child or teen to fear talking to them.
Many PE teachers fill that gap and guide students in
the right direction to guidance professionals and open
dialogue between parents, children and teens.

American’s spend billions of dollars on personal exercise
equipment, personal trainers, motivational exercise programs,
spa memberships, etc, but there are professionals already
available for our children and teens in schools. These
billions need to be put in the Physical Education programs
that are struggling now to address obesity in children
and have been for years before this current and urgent
governmental focus. The obvious is simple use the resources
that are available, the trained professionals that should
be supported more, respected more, funded more that already
have a direct impact on children and teens. Why create more
programs that only rely on temporary budgets or nonexistent
funds when support needs to go to professional educators that
are currently in place and making a difference in our schools.

William Jackson, M.Ed.
Physical Education Professional
DCPS Jacksonville, Florida

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