By Liz Perry, Healthy Kids Coordinator at Partners for Active Living
Elementary school was a long time ago. Where I went to grade school, Physical Education, or gym class as I knew it then, didn’t start until 7th grade. We did have daily recess, which involved running round outside, playing tag or kickball or jumping rope if you felt like it. In bad weather, we could jump rope or play tag (no kickball) in the cafeteria after we pushed the tables up against the walls and stacked the chairs. As they have a habit of doing, things have changed.
Luckily, formal Physical Education programs with a certified teacher are available to lots of school aged children these days. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that schools provide 150 minutes of instructional physical education for elementary school children per week, and 225 minutes for middle and high school students per week for the entire school year. However, the current minimum requirement in South Carolina is much less than the recommendation. For example, while 150 minutes of PE per week is recommended for elementary school children, in South Carolina the minimum requirement is 60 minutes a week. The Every Student Succeeds Act, which was recently passed into law, identifies Health and Physical Education as part of a well-rounded education. That change allows for more funding opportunities for school health and physical education programs in our local schools, and an opportunity for the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDOE) to make increased Health and Physical Education standards a key part of the overall education plan for the state.
As the SC Department of Education transitions to this new act, you can let your voice be heard about the importance of Health and PE programs to you, your families and your community. Eat Smart Move More South Carolina has created an action alert that simplifies communicating to the SCDOE. The stakes are high as noted by ESMMSC:
With the troubling trend of inactivity and health issues facing our children, including PE in our state's plan is an important way to improve the health and well-being of every child in South Carolina - regardless of their zip code. This is particularly important in South Carolina which has the second highest obesity rate for youth ages 10-17.
Want more details? Check out the Eat Smart Move More South Carolina website or go directly to the action page at http://eatsmartmovemoresc.org/advocacy/votervoice/. Promoting healthy and active lifestyles to our children through education is a great investment in their future.