Many of our peers in the Physical Education community recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for Speak Out Day to meet with members of Congress about ESSA and the importance of Health and Physical Education. After hearing about their experiences, I thought it would be helpful to discuss how we as Physical Educators can advocate for support of our programs.
The goal of advocacy is to actively support a cause by educating others. In the PE world, that means standing up for our programs by sharing the importance of quality Physical Education and Health programs in schools, promoting the benefits for student health and academic achievement, and continuing to fight for support to ensure there are resources and funding available for physical education and health for years to come.
When representing our profession, we need to advocate by breaking down barriers, talking to the right people, and sharing accurate, relevant evidence to support our cause. What steps do we take? What can we do? There are 4 areas of advocacy we should consider as we look for support for our Physical Education and Health programs.
- Educate yourself. What is the importance of PE to you? What are the benefits for students? Are there any policies in your district or state? What are the current issues, federal, state, and local legislation and guidelines?
- Develop an understanding of what a quality PE program looks like. Create and teach meaningful lessons, build positive relationships with students, and promote activity outside of class.
- To stay current with best practices and the latest trends, read professional articles and journals, join state and national PE organizations, and join PE groups on social media.
- Engage your administrators. Invite them to visit your class and educate them on what a quality PE program looks like.
- Look for others in your district who can help you advocate and collaborate with staff members at your school to help your cause and theirs.
- Encourage students to advocate through making posters, posting on social media, etc.
- Present and share information at faculty meetings and professional development days.
- Make a bulletin board at school highlighting your lessons and student work.
- Register your school for fundraising and health promotion events like health. moves. minds., jog-a-thons, etc.
- Provide a presentation to the school board highlighting the need for quality PE and showcasing your program’s accomplishments.
Parents and Community
- Share information with your local community through school events, fundraisers, your class or school website, newsletters, and on social media.
- Present at a PTA meeting or local community organization (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.) who can help with funding and advocacy.
- Form partnerships with community organizations.
- Write an article for the paper, start a blog, or post information on social media.
- Engage parents by sharing what you do through emails, newsletters, and bulletin boards.
- Plan a family fitness night or a “Take Your Parent to PE Week” event.
- Participate in state and national legislation initiatives, including advocating for more ESSA funding.
- Provide support at local, state, and national meetings and events (conferences, Speak Out Day, etc.).
- Write to your state and local legislators.
- Research advocacy tools on the SHAPE America website.
Everyone can advocate whether it is at the local, state, or national level. We should all make our voice heard and fight for our students. Let’s do our best to promote our profession and meet the needs of all students. For additional resources visit SPARKpe.org and learn more about our curriculum, research, and grant finder to help support your program.
Jeff was first exposed to SPARK in 2004 while working for Shasta County Public Health Department in California. He became a SPARK trainer in 2005 and oversaw the SPARK Community Grant Program for Shasta County until 2007 when he joined the SPARK team. Jeff has spent the past 12+ years in SPARK curriculum design, professional development, and equipment selection. Jeff has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, a master’s degree in Public Health, and over 20 years of experience in physical education, health, and nutrition.
Jeff spends his time with wife Julie, daughter Katie, and his son Zack. In his free time, Jeff enjoys playing tennis and golf. Jeff resides in Louisville, KY.
What I love about SPARK: That the curriculum addresses all of the fundamental skills students need to learn and each unit follows a progression so each lesson builds upon the last.
What is great about SPARK: All of the supplement materials that enhance each of the lesson plans. There are task cards, skill cards, music, and assessments for teachers to use to reinforce learning.
Favorite SPARK lesson: Workout Buddies. I love the social interaction between partners and that it provides students with a choice in how they want to complete the activity.
What makes you excited about SPARK: I’m excited to join Gopher Sport to continue with my love of SPARK and creating physical education resources to meet the needs of teachers.