Our Nation’s Education System Needs Active Schools – and YOU as a Champion for Them

By: Charlene Burgeson
Executive Director, Active Schools

We have a problem. Fortunately, there is a solution. The problem is that three quarters of our nation’s youth are not regularly active. Data from CDC pretty much tells the story: less than one-quarter (24%) of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

This 60-minute recommendation comes from the federal government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which is grounded in the most current scientific evidence. The Guidelines tells us that “Being physically active is one of the most important actions that people of all ages can take to improve their health. The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases.”

Hopefully you are sold on the importance of kids being physically active. So, let’s move on to the solution.

The solution is to provide all kids with an Active School environment. What does that mean? It means offering a variety school-based opportunities for kids to move and be active before, during, and after the school day such as physical activity in the classroom, sensory hallways, physical education class, before and after school clubs and teams, safe walking and biking to school, recess, and physical activity opportunities during the school day. These are not new concepts; there are a lot of great planning and implementation resources available. And there are schools successfully using them – just not enough. Which makes this a health and educational equity issue that must be addressed.

Kids are whole beings whose daily educational experience needs to include academic, social-emotional, and physical learning. These three types of learning are interrelated and linked with health and well-being. Years ago, social-emotional learning (SEL) was not the norm in many schools, but educators, parents, and the public have realized and corrected that mistake. These days we don’t often discuss the education of our children and adolescents without acknowledging all their needs so they can be healthy and happy in body and mind. However, adequate attention to physical learning and health is still underprioritized in our education system, and we must change that. That’s what the Active Schools Movement is all about. We’re developing guidance, tools, and recognition for schools and the adults who support them (administrators, teachers, staff, parents, community volunteers) to give students what they need and deserve to reach their full potential – an Active School!

Please take the first step in learning how to be an advocate and supporter by registering as an Active Schools Champion. Then learn about and register for the no-cost Active Schools Virtual Summit taking place August 1-5. Have a question about Active Schools? Email us at [email protected].

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Becoming an Active Schools Champion is a way to make a difference in the health and education of the next generation. It’s how we bring health equity to schools. It’s how we start a movement.