Lack of phys. ed plagues Alberta kids
by Blaine Meller
Sport is a powerful thing.
It creates passion, anger, ecstasy and even hate. It brings us moments we will never forget and allows our imagination to transport us into situations of victory and defeat. Who can’t remember playing hockey on a rink or frozen pond
pretending to be Gretzky, Bossy or Orr? Sport is social, whether it be gathering with friends to watch the big game or getting together for a round of golf.
Sport is also an escape. It allows us to put aside the trials of our everyday lives and escape into the lives of others. When the Calgary Flames were making their improbable playoff run back in 2004, even for a brief few hours every night, there was little talk of war, the economy or diseased chickens. But have you ever considered the connection between sport and education, or more importantly, how a lack of education – physical education in this instance – could adversely affect sport?
Alberta Education has an initiative called Daily Physical Activity (DPA) in which every child in this province is required to participate in at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each school day. This activity does not have to be sport based, but it does need to include specific elements, such as dance, gymnastics and “alternate” activities, such as rock climbing and bowling. This is all well and good until you start looking at how DPA is being administered, here in Calgary specifically.
According to the Calgary Board of Education, there are only 11 full-time, dedicated and trained physical educators in this city’s elementary schools, meaning a large number of students are receiving physical education instruction from teachers of math, languages, science and music. It’s better than nothing, but far from perfect.
Physical education is exactly that; education for the physical body, teaching children and youth the proper way to walk, run, jump, throw and catch. Looking back, how many people actually realize that through games and sport, they were being taught these foundations? The point is this: Physical education in this province is suffering and as a result, children are not receiving the basic skills they need in order to not only play and prosper at sports later in life, but in day-to- day activities as well. The more involved children are in physical education, the more likely they will participate in sport, and the less likely they will be obese and sedentary in later life. Studies show that children who are physically active are more self-confident and fare better academically than ones who are inactive.
The question is this: Why are Alberta Education and the provincial government not putting more emphasis on physical education in this province? The DPA is a good start, but without proper implementation and instruction, it risks not doing enough. More directly, why are schools not hiring more qualified and dedicated physical education instructors? The benefits of physical education and sport are numerous, so why are they not being given higher priority?
Sport is a powerful thing, but without education, that power is in danger of diminishing.