Physical education

First-graders in Cindy Denton's class were very much invested in a wellness program activity that took place Wednesday at Kyrene de la Colina. Four times a year, Kyrene students get active every day for a week in a program developed by ASU physical education professor and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Chuck Corbin. Nov. 17, 2010

AFN file

A recent study released last month showed loopholes in physical education for schools around the country, but on the local level, educators have found ways for kids to stay active.

The 2012 Shape of the Nation Report found that while 74.5 percent of states mandate physical education in elementary through high school, most don’t require specific amounts of instructional time. In addition, about half allow for schools to provide substitutions, exemptions, and waivers.

These “loopholes,” are said to reduce effectiveness of policy efforts ensuring quality of physical education.

For Kathy Dean, a past president of the Arizona Health and Physical Education association, working at a private school in Ahwatukee Foothills has proved beneficial in some ways.

With support from other teachers, and a way to connect student’s classroom lessons to sports and other activities, Dean said the “tide seems to be turning.”

Dean teaches physical education at the Summit School of Ahwatukee, and mentioned that continued cuts in education is still a hurdle keeping kids on a bigger scale from healthy physical activity.

“It’s very disheartening,” added Dean. “But, fortunately I’ve got a supportive community for physical education.”

This semester, Dean has worked with other teachers to tie in lessons and ideas learned in class with physical activity. Adding that she is just connecting the dots, so far it has worked out well for her middle school students.

Though Dean said a push from parents is needed, as well as informed legislators, she hopes that the Common Core State Standards help with connecting those dots.

“(Students) are not getting the whole respectable responsibility of being a life-long learner,” Dean said of reduced activity. “They aren’t diversified.”

At Kyrene Middle School, teacher Leslie DeRuiter has been implementing the national program Let’s Move.

The program, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, seeks to increase physical activity, provide healthy foods in schools, and empower parents, among other things to combat child obesity.

DeRuiter has also encouraged teachers with ideas to increase activity as well, finding an overall positive response.

“We do have to turn it around, some people get it, but we need more of a culture and mind shift,” DeRuiter said. “It’s not enough.”

The study was released in November by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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