Physical Education — NOT an option.

Backpacking is one form of PE at Explorations.

An article in today’s New York Times spells out that which has been implied:  Young people in school are not getting adequate exercise.  According to a CDC report released in June, almost half of all high school students report getting no PE classes at all in a typical week!

Especially with the hefty gain in obesity rates, it is essential that for our nation’s health to be restored, our society is in great need of increased activity and reduced consumption.  This is particularly important in the teenage years, when young people are no longer spontaneously running and jumping and playing as they did in elementary school.  It is even more important considering that teenagers are setting patterns in place that will become permanent characteristics of their adult lives.

Martial Arts — another Explorations PE experience!

Of course, part of what is pushing the reduction in PE classes is financial.  Another part is the concentration of class time on preparing students to do well on standardized testing, which would seem to make PE class less important than math or English.

What seems to be lacking in all this is the recognition that physical and mental capacity are not separate.  At Explorations, we have long recognized that the more kids’ physical needs are met, the more effective they are at reaching their academic goals.  For this reason we have been increasing, not decreasing, the amount of PE for Explorations Academy students.  Our graduation requirements were revised a couple of years back to increase the emphasis on physical education.  Around that time, we also started taking kids for a one mile walk right after lunch — regardless of the weather — on any day that doesn’t have a PE class scheduled.

Finally, we’ve begun implementing gardening, cooking, and nutrition classes as well.  This way, kids do not only gain fitness and health through exercise, but through conscious eating.  Our goal of helping kids become leaders for positive change requires them to be at their best — and for them to model healthy living for others!

Conclusion:  While PE is not an option for many kids in American high schools, we believe that PE must be integral, not optional, to help in the development of healthy and whole adults.

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