Can Physical Education Unite a War-Torn Country?

Athletes-Shaking-Hands_webWhen it comes to physical education, it seems that Uganda is more advanced in its thinking than many North American school boards. Rather than firing PE teachers and cutting PE from school curricula, Uganda’s ministry for education has announced that they’ll be recruiting 3600 new physical education teachers over the next two years.

In justifying this expenditure, the minister stated the well-known (but often ignored or misunderstood) rationale of improved health among students.

However, he also  expressed a benefit that is overlooked in North America but is of great urgency in a country with a long history of civil war…unity!

In education minister Kamanda Bataringaya’s speech, he appealed for local leaders to support sport in their districts as a way to unite their communities. In his words: “Very many countries fight each other but when it comes to sports, they are one.”

Fitness, health, national unity.

In Bataringaya’s words,  “So, education should go hand in hand with sports.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Reference: Paul Watala and Joseph Wanzusi, “Government Eyes 3600 to Train Physical Education,” AllAfrica.com,  April 8, 2010.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,PE,physical education advantages,physical education and unity,sport and unity,sport advantages[/tags]

“Hurricane” Hazel McCallion Illustrates the Benefits of Lifetime Fitness

Hazel_blogAs the end of 2009 approaches, I’ll leave you with an illustration of the true end-goal of  successful physical education programs – an example of the benefits of a lifetime of consistent exercise.

Hazel McCallion, at 88 years of age, has been the mayor of Mississauga for the past 31 years!  Nicknamed “Hurricane Hazel,” mayor McCallion has an approval rating of 92%, and has won 11 straight elections. She has outlasted eight Canadian prime ministers and has her own bobble-head doll.

Mississauga, a former suburb of Toronto, is the 6th largest city in Canada. Under McCallion’s direction, it is completely debt-free and has 700 million in reserves.

The mayor is incredibly busy, but includes exercise in her hectic schedule. A former player in a women’s professional hockey league, she leaves her skates and hockey stick in the trunk of her car so she has them wherever she goes. She sometimes sneaks into a hockey rink during the day with a stick and puck and skates around on her own. She bowls, uses an exercise bike and is incredibly fit and vital.

Check out the following video of a Rick Mercer interview (from CBC’s comedy show, the Mercer Report)  with Mayor McCallion and watch her engage in some of her favourite exercise activities, including hockey, bowling and exercise cycling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY79KbCptTo

Have a happy holiday, everyone! I’ll see you in 2010! (Our next blog posting will be on January 4th).

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,fitness,Hazel McCallion,Mississauga[/tags]

We Must Teach Students That Walking is a Form of Transportation

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In most of the world, people walk to get places. They walk to school, they walk to work. If they don’t walk, they ride a bike.

However, in North America, our car-culture has given us a generation of children who don’t consider their feet to be a mode of transportation.

The bus takes them to school. If the bus doesn’t stop at their front door, parents give them a drive to the bus stop. Mom and Dad drive them to activities – including sports activities. Their friends drive them to the mall.  They have the impression that anywhere worth going to is too far to walk, when in fact, that walk might take only 15 minutes. It may not actually BE a long walk, but it might seem far when you’ve only ever driven it.

One of the best things you can do in PE class is to make your students walk around your neighborhood. Show them how long it takes to get places.  Tell them to walk to the mall and time how long it takes. Walk for 15 minutes down a street. How far did they get?  Have them walk in the rain with umbrellas. Have them walk in the snow. Make these classes an exercise in transportation.

Show them that their feet weren’t just designed for standing…or even for sports. They were designed to get them places. And amazingly, their feet can get them places in bad weather. Show them that walking is basic human transportation…in addition to one of the best fitness activities they can perform.

These classes will give them a feeling of freedom when they realize they don’t have to depend on Mom and Dad to drive them everywhere. Tell them to think of it as an exercise in personal freedom and emancipation from their parents. That’s an easy sell for most kids!

Heck – during these activities, they may even walk by their house. The house they take a bus from every morning.

P.S. And yes, when I was a child, I DID walk 20 miles to school, in the snow, barefoot, both ways uphill. But that’s a story for another posting 🙂

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,fitness,walking,youth fitness,[/tags]

Politicians! We Need a National Fitness Strategy and a New National Identity!

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It’s election time in both Canada and the United States.   Much has been discussed about the  election platforms of every political party on both sides of the border: Military spending and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; unemployment, the deficit, and ways to stimulate the economy;  environmental initiatives; tax reduction; and health-care spending…

In the discussions on health care spending, I seldom hear anything mentioned about disease prevention and the incredible savings in our health-care spending that can result.  But in order to realize these savings, we need a national strategy for fitness.

The strategy must be comprehensive with the goal of establishing a national identity that includes fitness, health and physical competence. This identity must begin with our youngest of school children and sustain them throughout their adult years. National funds must be set aside to enable our states and provinces and local school boards to provide quality daily physical education led by competent instructors who will instill a love of physical activity and fitness and provide the knowledge and physical tools to enable every student to enjoy a lifelong, healthy lifestyle. Continue reading Politicians! We Need a National Fitness Strategy and a New National Identity!

If They Can Block-Schedule Physical Education, Why Not Lunch?

School-Lunch-Photo_blog

Although physical educators have long realized the importance of Quality Daily Physical Education, the need for such programs is still not a priority for parents and policy makers. This is highlighted by the fact that many school boards still use block-scheduling for physical education classes. That is, they schedule a child’s PE classes in either the first or second semester instead of providing them throughout the school year.

Unfortunately, the administrators who make educational policy are often academics with no grounding in physical fitness—their decisions are based on efficiency rather than sound physiological principles.

This problem were amusingly illustrated as far back as 1990, in a book by Gordon Stewart called “Running Through My Mind.” In this book, he described the thoughts of Dr. Bill Ross of the Department of Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby British Columbia.

Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Stewart’s article, “Games Children Should Play.”

“In spite of the overwhelming evidence of its value, daily physical education is still more a dream than reality. Some schools move even farther from the ideal with a system known as block scheduling, where a subject is taught every day one semester and not at all the next.”

Ask Dr. Ross about block scheduling and he gets even more worked up than he does about childhood games.

“The biological nature of children and youth must be a mystery to educational planners who schedule physical education for students one semester and leave it out the next,” says Dr. Ross. “If they want to be efficient, they should do the same with lunch.

“A lunch period every day is really inefficient. Why not five lunches every Monday? A student could get all his eating finished on the first day of the week and not disrupt his schedule for the remaining four days.

“Ridiculous? No more so than scheduling physical education every day one semester and omitting it from the timetable the next semester. Exercise is a metabolic activity every bit as much as eating is. Daily physical activity is crucial for normal growth and development.”

So where does this leave us? If block-scheduling is here to stay, intramural sports and after-school sports activities are crucial. But a more logical step is to lobby against the crazy practice and to lobby for quality daily physical education.

Reference: Excerpt reprinted with permission of the publisher: Gordon W. Stewart, “Games children should play,” from Running Through My Mind, Victoria: 3S Fitness Group Ltd., 1990.
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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,fitness,children's health, PE scheduling>[/tags]

The Buddy Bench Improves Inclusiveness During Recess Periods

Recess can be an excellent opportunity for children to engage in fitness activities. However for some children, recess isn’t fun – it’s a cruel reminder that they aren’t part of the in-crowd. Excluded from group games and activities, they stand on the sidelines watching and wishing they were part of the fun.

That’s where the “buddy bench” comes in. First used in Germany, the buddy bench is a simple idea that will help to improve inclusiveness during your school’s recess periods.

The buddy bench is a designated bench that you place on your school grounds. If a student has no one to play with, they sit on the bench. If students see someone sitting on the buddy bench, they know they should ask them to play or join the activities they are engaged in.
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The concept has proven to be extremely effective in schools across North America. The benches have been donated to schools by local businesses, parents, or interested charitable groups. They have also been built by the schools themselves as a group project. The benches can be painted and designed to be visible and can include all sorts of inclusive sayings and mottos.

It’s a great idea. Here’s a video about the buddy bench.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,buddy bench,recess,inclusiveness>[/tags]