What Now U.S.A?

With the news that Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of the United States, many are prognosticating on how his policies might impact foreign affairs, the world economy, climate change, and more.

As a physical educator and public health advocate, I’m also thinking in a different, far more narrow lane. How might a Trump presidency impact our futures as professionals?

While the data support that physical activity delivered in schools by trained, physical educators positively impacts a young person’s ability to learn and be healthy, physical education (PE) continues a long fight to justify its existence. Even in 2016, when we KNOW active PE is essential for kids, the frequency and duration of PE classes is constantly challenged. 

The world supports the recommendation that young people should engage in 60 minutes of physical activity a day, nearly every day of the week. Yet PE is NOT a daily routine at every K-12 school in the world. in fact, if you speak with physical educators who teach in different countries, you’ll hear the same commonalities: 

-Insufficient time allocated for PE

-Lack of administrative support

-Budget concerns that threaten to reduce the number of PE teachers, classes, equipment, and more. 

The U.S. is losing one of its best PE supporters in their current First Lady, Michelle Obama. During her tenure, she brought worldwide attention to the issue of childhood obesity, and passionately supported healthy eating and physical activity programs, policies, and initiatives. Her efforts influenced private enterprise too, prompting changes in food labeling, more healthy choices on fast food menus, and changes in dietary guidelines for schools and districts.

President Obama set a good example too; maintaining an optimal weight and exercising consistently (his preferences are basketball and golf but he’s been known to jog and lift weights too). 

Does Donald Trump exercise regularly? Will he be a positive role model like his predecessors? Will he or his wife continue the obesity prevention emphasis of the current administration; an effort that resonated around the world? 

During the Obama administration, there was also funding to support National Institutes of Health grants that study root causes of obesity and test viable solutions. Under a Trump presidency, will this emphasis on scientific knowledge acquisition and prevention continue? 

We can lament the loss of the Obama’s and their emphasis on public health and prevention, or we can outreach to the next President and First Lady and encourage them to take up the cause. I strongly suggest the latter. Let’s begin to speak up on social media and educate President Trump. I’m going to ask our professional organizations to do this as well. This is an opportunity to recruit a new advocate! I hope you’ll join me by tweeting, posting, emailing, writing a letter, whatever medium you’re comfortable with. Now is the time to start this process. I hope you’re with me! 

In closing, I’m proud to be associated with organizations that are doing the grassroots work to provide quality PE, physical activity, and sport programs for youth in India, the United States, and China. The three largest countries in the world. In India, Leapstart (www.leapstart.co.in)  and SPARK work together to deliver world class PE curriculum to the next generation of Indians. LeapStart strongly advocates the need to be Physically Literate and Active, from a very early age. In the U.S., SPARK (www.sparkpe.org, email: spark@sparkpe.org) focuses on innovation, integrating technology into its curriculum and pedagogy programs. In China, Edutech has translated SPARK to mandarin and is in the process of sharing SPARK content and instructional strategies with physicalWhat

Paul Rosengard (@paulrosengard) -Consultant/Advisor to Leapstart 

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