Originally published March 17, 2023 by Kennesaw State University News.
By Dave Shelles
A Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Activity Leadership (HPAL) degree program will be offered starting next fall in Kennesaw State University’s Wellstar College of Health and Human Services.
The new HPAL program offers three tracks of concentration—coaching, youth activity leadership and health and physical education teacher certification. In each concentration, students will learn how to lead youth in the development of health-related skills, physical activity and self-efficacy within school and community settings.
“With more families seeking recreational opportunities for their children and more students wanting to influence healthy lifestyles, Kennesaw State will provide students with the education required to make a difference in these lives,” Wellstar College Dean Monica Swahn said. “This degree program positions Kennesaw State at the forefront of helping the youth of Georgia and the Southeast choose active habits.”
Approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in December 2022, the program will take a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare education, using existing coursework from the College, as well as four other KSU units. It will fall under the purview of the College’s Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education and is led by program director Peter St. Pierre
“This program will allow our students to learn and practice the skills needed to engage school and community youth in healthy practices and physical activities,” said Deborah Baxter, assistant professor of health promotion and physical education. “We want to prepare our students to meet the leadership demands in markets like travel sports teams and public recreational facilities with a curriculum that includes teaching, management and leadership skills.”
All three concentrations can lead to in-demand careers. The coaching concentration has applications in school and community settings as well as in the private sector. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor show the job market is predicted to grow 26% through 2030, well ahead of other applications. Approximately 45 million American children participate in sports, and three-fourths of parents have at least one child competing in organized sports.
The youth activity leadership track prepares students for leadership positions in institutions such as schools, clubs, nonprofits and religious organizations. Opportunities in this space are expected to grow by 18% through 2028.