“Healthy People – Physically Educated and Physically Active!” is the vision of the newly unified and rebranded Society of Health and Physical Educators, formerly known as the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). SHAPE America is the organization’s seventh name change since its founding in 1885 as the Association for the Advancement of Physical Education (AAPE).
The largest organization of physical educators in the country with close to 20,000 members, SHAPE America’s mission is to advance professional practice and promote research related to health and physical education, physical activity, dance, and sport. Reflecting this direction, SHAPE America is working to:
- Shape a future where healthy is the norm
- Shape a standard of excellence in physical education and health education
- Shape the lifelong habits of young people
- Shape and influence policy related to physical education and health education
A central aspect of this professional leadership for over 129 years is the development of standards and guidelines for physical education, school health education, and physical activity. Among its many professional firsts, the organization created the first ever National Standards for K-12 Physical Education, developed the Let’s Move in School public awareness campaign to increase physical activity before, during, and after school, and originated the Shape of the Nation Report, which reviews the status of physical education across the United States.
Improving the standard for physical education for every K-12 student in America is one of its primary goals. The ultimate purpose of any physical education program is to help children develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime. The organization calls for 150 minutes per week of instructional physical education class for elementary school students and 225 minutes per week for middle and high school students, all led by certificated physical education teachers. In addition, SHAPE America recommends schools keep the size of physical education classes the same as other subjects and provide enough equipment for all children to be physically active at the same time.
A managing partner of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative, SHAPE America also works closely with various organizations such as the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, American Heart Association, The Cooper Institute, and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition to help our youth achieve 60 minutes of daily physical activity. The organization has been at the forefront of educating parents, administrators, school board members, and legislators about the positive impact of school-based physical activity on academic performance.
Research shows that physical activity is critical for better health because it:
- Curbs childhood obesity
- Improves blood flow and mental clarity
- Promotes strong bones
- Creates healthy habits for a lifetime
Physical activity also positively impacts academic achievement because it improves:
- Attention and concentration
- Classroom behavior
- Attachment to school
- Graduation rates and GPA
- Educational aspirations
As a result, SHAPE America recommends that a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, anchored by the new standard of physical education, is the best way for schools to ensure that students get enough physical activity to positively affect their health and academic performance. For more information about this national association’s rich history as well as programs, products, and services, visit www.shapeamerica.org.