For too many students, quality physical education (PE) programs in schools don’t exist. PE programs should not be viewed as an option but rather as a necessity. We want to set our kids up for a healthy future. Together, with members of our community, local policymakers, and school administrators, we can create a school environment that exercises the minds of our kids and protects physical education.
Whether you choose to write an op-ed for your local newspaper, strike up a conversation at the grocery store with a neighbor, or speak at your child’s school, there are certain key messages you’ll want to include in your conversation to make your point most compelling. Make sure to include a variety of perspectives in your messages to fit with a specific audience such as teachers, parents, school administrators, reporters, and local policy makers. Taking the time to tailor your message to different audiences will bring a perspective that is important to that audience and help create a broad coalition of support for protecting physical education in our schools.
Before you start building your campaign, it’s important to map out your main objectives—what you want to achieve—and align them with the Key Messages below.
Once you determine the specific policies and improvements that make sense for your community, make sure to include potential solutions in all of your communication efforts, so that key stakeholders have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish and how they can help.
Take a look at the messaging framework below tailored for different audiences. It brings to life the need to protect physical education as you implement your campaign.
Overarching Messages in Support of Physical Education in School
This is the messaging thread that should connect all communications, no matter the policy objective.
Active kids learn better. The fact is, active students focus and think better. That means higher test scores across the board. But the benefits don’t end there. Physical education addresses the needs of the whole child. Quality physical education programs provide the activity kids need for a positive impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health. PE programs improve judgment, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. Making sure all students are getting physical education is a critical part of keeping kids healthy.
PE is so much more than physical activity. It’s time to better support the whole child.
Exercise their Minds™. Protect PE.
Supporting Message Points
When you write and speak about your cause, here are some message points to highlight. Remember that there may be different audiences you’re trying to reach with your campaign. From parents and teachers to local policymakers, each message point should be written to match the perspective of that audience member, so that everyone feels empowered and encouraged to get involved!
Physical education improves the entire school day. (Audiences: Parents/Teachers)
Parents and teachers are concerned about children’s health. Physical inactivity contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Schools are designed to set our kids up for a successful future. Yet competing priorities are putting more and more schools in a difficult position, where they have to emphasize certain programs over others—like physical education (PE). But we know that PE can help kids be more active and that active kids do better in class. Eliminating daily PE programs limits the amount of physical activity our children get during the day and can have lasting impacts on their mental and physical health. As teachers and parents, you can attest to the benefits that PE has on children’s health and academic achievement and reinforce that PE should be a part of every child’s school day.
When children get more time for physical education, they do better physically, mentally, and emotionally, which is good for schools too.
Quality PE programs help make sure that our children are on their way to a healthier future. Physical activity can have a positive impact on cognitive ability, help kids avoid tobacco, and reduce their risk for insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Active kids also learn better. However, school PE programs have been decreasing over the years. Now only 3.8% of elementary, 7.9% of middle, and 2.1% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent throughout the entire school year. As parents and teachers, we can change these statistics and set our kids up for success.
Kids shouldn’t miss out on physical education just because of their zip code.
Heart disease and type 2 diabetes have a greater impact on communities of color, and longstanding racial inequities and socioeconomic challenges leave many schools without the resources to provide PE. With all of the competing priorities schools have, health often gets left behind. But students at these schools shouldn’t be at greater risk because of where they live. As teachers and parents, we can change this by advocating for policies that create and support PE programs at all schools.
Physical education in schools improves wellness and academic success of students. (Audience: Policymakers)
Physical education is a critical component of the school day.
It’s imperative that physical education (PE) is re-established as part of the school day. This is the only way we’ll know that our kids are getting the education and active time that will help them develop healthy habits for life. Helping kids get a healthier start means a healthier country overall.
We have a duty to provide our kids with the best well-rounded education possible. Instead of cutting PE programs from schools and risking the health of our children, we must ensure our kids get all of the necessary lessons at an early age. Together we can set children off on the right path for a healthy life with the right balance of academic and physical education.
Schools should include a minimum amount of daily physical activity as a part of their education programs.
Kids are full of energy in and out of school. Research shows that children need an hour of activity every day, and PE programs in school can play a big part in helping them get there. Our children spend a majority of their day in schools, and ensuring quality physical activity daily will not only improve their health, it will also improve their academic achievement.
Schools need support for physical education programs, facilities, and equipment so kids can be active.
We know it can be difficult for schools to balance funding constraints, but together we can work with policymakers, teachers, and parents to find solutions so kids are able to get a well-rounded education. Every student should have access to physical education in school that promotes physical activity and teaches a healthy lifestyle.