Originally published Sept. 29, 2017 in Huffington Post.

By Louis Bolling, Contributor

Today marks the last day of the first-ever Take Your Parent to PE Week, a national movement to help schools provide at least 60 minutes a day of physical education (PE) and before, during and after school physical activity for all of America’s students.

Sponsored by Active Schools, from September 25-29, the national movement encourages schools’ PE programs and teachers to engage parents and encourage families to be physically active at home and in the community.

Active“The purpose of ‘Take Your Parent to PE Week,’ #ParentsLovePE, is to introduce physical education programs and teachers to parents so they engage throughout the year,” said Charlene Burgeson, executive director of Active Schools. “What better way is there for parents to learn about physical education than by seeing it for themselves?”

Serving as a hub to help schools access best practices, programs, and resources to increase physical education and physical activity opportunities for K-12 students, Active Schools is powered by a national collaboration of leading health and education organizations.

By connecting physical activity and physical education to academic success, Active Schools makes it easier for schools to create active learning environments.

“Parents have a strong voice in ensuring that educators are being supported in their efforts to provide students with the learning experiences they need to make healthy decisions,” said SHAPE America president, Dr. Fran Cleland.

“We want every child to succeed,” said Cleland, a West Chester University Department of Kinesiology professor. Releasing a new parent’s guide with SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical EducatorsGetting to Know Your Child’s PE Program, Cleland said. “It is important to ask these questions to ascertain whether the school values physical education as a core subject.”

Since its launch in 2013 as Let’s Move! Active Schools, a component of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, Active Schools has impacted more than 23,000 schools in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, reaching more than 12 million students.

“Physical activity is good for kids, and it’s fun,” Burgeson stated in the Let’s Move! Active Schools Progress Report, Progress and Promise: 2016 in Review. Affirming that “Let’s Move! Active Schools is here to stay,” Burgeson noted that only “1 out of 3” of America’s children are getting the nationally recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, putting “the health of our country’s future leaders is at risk.”

Through its 50 Million Strong by 2029 campaignSHAPE America wants to ensure that by the time today’s youngest students graduate from high school in 2029, all of America’s young people are prepared to lead healthy and active lives through effective health and physical education programs.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services , being physically active is one of the most important steps to being healthy.

Supported by data reported in the Youth Physical Activity: The Role of Schools, a large percentage of youth physical activity can be provided through a comprehensive school-based physical activity program with quality physical education as the cornerstone.

Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance, and classroom behaviors. In addition, higher physical activity and physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance among students.

Boasting a proven record of providing an unprecedented platform to lift up the importance of school physical education and physical activity, Active Schools in the midst of executing its 2017-2019 strategic plan of getting more students active.

Last year the Active Schools movement proudly hosted and partnered with an impressive list of organizations to produce an NBA FIT Active Schools Promotion“Athletes for Active Schools Week” by Athletes for Hope, and Let’s Move! Active Schools Partner Reception at the White House among other momentous occasions. Earlier this year the collective celebrated its partners, awarding ErgotronLakeshore Foundation – National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) and Marathon Kids with its Partner of the Year Award.

“This partnership has allowed us to take our programming to a scope beyond what we had ever imagined,” said Ray Blue, director of Marathon Kids. “It’s been catalytic! Partnering with Active Schools has enabled us to quickly evolve into a larger, more effective organization. I feel humbled and grateful to play with such an incredible initiative.”

This year’s Active Schools Marathon Kids grant program was the single largest grant-making opportunity executed by the initiative to date.

“Any day the world acknowledges the needs of people with disabilities is a great day,” said Dr. James Rimmer, director of NCHPAD.

“We proudly accept this award on behalf of the six million students in our nation with disabilities — as well as those who have been fighting for inclusion for much of their life. We thank those who came before us in the disability movement to make this even possible; they are as much a part of this award as we are,” said Rimmer.

With approximately 50 million students currently enrolled in America’s elementary and secondary schools, Active Schools recently recognized 452 schools, awarding them the 2017 Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award, for their outstanding efforts to create an active school environment.

“Active Schools is a collective impact initiative,” said Burgeson. “Our accomplishments are the result of the many contributions made by our health, education and private sector partners.”


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