Wisconsin should be so proud. At the risk of choosing sides in a political hot topic, I want to point out a few facts. Not politically swayed right or left, but facts:
- Children are getting fatter, in fact Wisconsin is 33rd in the country for levels of childhood obesity. We were 25th so we were on the mend, but recent studies of trends show enormous slide backward.
- Wisconsin is NUMBER 1 in cutting education spending. In fact the most recent budget cut the allowance for every student by $635 a year.
Schools cannot provide physical education that is actually life changing for a child. Beneficial yes. Habit changing that lasts a whole life-long? No. Why, because they have no budget for it. One could argue that money for schools is better spent on books, computers and learning aids but the reality is that children who are fit, children who are active will absorb more cognitively, and retain it longer. That’s a fact too.
What programs do schools eliminate to save money? They eliminate what we used to call MAPEl courses: that is Music, Art, and Physical Education. According to my old P.E. books from college (one of my degrees is in Physical Education) A physical education:
- “teaches rules for sports so children can participate or appreciate participation throughout their lifetime”. I love this because it explains that not all kids will be life-long athletes but they will watch sports their whole life. In school we called that the “Arm-Chair Athlete” definition.
- providing the core of a comprehensive approach to promoting physical activity through schools. That objective, as I see it, is not a priority in Wisconsin anymore, and quickly slipping out of the plan for education across the whole country.
- will help students develop the knowledge, attitudes, skills, behaviors and confidence needed to be physically active for life while providing an opportunity for students to be active during the school day.
- (a student educated about physical activity) has learned skills necessary to perform a variety of physical activities, is physically fit, does participate regularly in physical activity, knows the implication of and the benefits from involvement in physical activities, and values physical activity and its contribution to a healthful lifestyle. In a nutshell, it says that this is where a healthy lifestyle is born
- For both young people and adults, knowledge about how to be physically active taught in physical education may be a more important influence on physical activity than the knowledge about why to be active. In other words, telling kids to be healthy isn’t enough without showing them how to be healthy.
- There is a strong relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement. Cumulative evidence indicates that conditions that improves general health promote both a healthy body and improved intellectual capacity. I’ve yelled this from the highest mountains yet the conditions in our state keep dwindling.
Gymfinity was started, in-part, to be able to offer a physical outlet for children outside the schools. Our EveryBody Fitness program is offered outside of gymnastics and tumbling training for kids who are just seeking an opportunity to be fit. We have offered a fitness program for years and will continue in the future, but our numbers are minimal, in fact the program is a financial liability for the business. But we will not eliminate it because it is a program that is built upon Gymfinity’s core.
Wisconsin is not alone. Other states continue to decimate their school budgets and wonder at the repercussions. I think of the people in government who count pennies and allocate their use, denying money to education in the daytime, and wondering at night why their fat kids are getting such low grades, and just how they are going to afford the medication for their own child’s health issues. This is a no-brainer.
There are 10 chronic diseases directly associated with children being overweight. That is a fact. It’s a fact that 80 percent of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight (this used to be called “adult-onset” diabetes but too many children are being diagnosed at younger ages to continue to use that term). The projections based on these facts state that 33 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls born in 2000 will develop diabetes if current trends continue. These are diseases that are 100% preventable, yet we don’t want to allocate money to provide any change. The facts are out there and yet we aren’t paying attention to them. Wisconsin is known for beer and cheese. What could we do to make that reputation change to Milk and Healthy and Smart children? If we could change that, if our leadership invested for a healthy future, that would make me happy and proud of Wisconsin again. You?
- Administration and Management of Physical Education and Athletic Programs
- Committee for Education Funding
- Foundations of Physical Education, Exercise Science
- History of American Physical Education and Sport
- Instructional Models For Physical Education
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
- Physical Best Activity Guide : Elementary Level
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services