More PE in Chicago, Momentum Nationwide

February 12, 2014

Support builds to get kids moving.

About a year ago, First Lady Michelle Obama came to Chicago and launched Let's Move Active Schools, another part of her effort to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. At the launch event, more than 6,000 Chicago Public Schools students had the opportunity to jump, run and dance with luminaries such as gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Gabby Douglas, sprinter Allyson Felix, tennis player Serena Williams and decathlete Ashton Eaton, and more.

She told these students, “You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be healthy. You just have to move. That’s how you’ll prepare your bodies and your minds for greatness.”

Let's Move Active Schools challenged America's schools to provide 60 minutes of physical activity to all students. Now, with a recent Chicago Board of Education action to require high-quality daily PE for all, CPS students will have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of being active. With better access to high-quality PE, CPS students will be more focused and ready to learn while building healthy habits to last a lifetime.

The First Lady's leadership as well as local advocacy efforts helped to make this change possible. For the last two years, HSC has been working closely with CPS on crafting Minds in Motion, a strategic district-wide plan for improving the quality and quantity of PE classes. HSC has also been working with parents, teachers and principals to implement the 30+20+10 initiative, a pilot program to provide daily 30 minutes of PE, 20 minutes of recess and 10 minutes of classroom physical activity.

Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition calls CPS’ new PE policy “an exciting milestone for students of Chicago Public Schools.” The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition is a key agency charged with helping the First Lady reach her goal of having 50,000 schools implement 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Pfohl says: “So far for Let’s Move! Active Schools, we have noticed some exciting changes at the district levels. Superintendents across the country have stepped up to support integrating physical activity throughout the school day because they know that active kids do better.”

Schools might add physical activity during the school day in any number of ways — during recess, in physical education classes, as in-classroom activity or as part of before- or after-school programming. How do they take the first step? Let’s Move Active Schools helps school conduct an assessment of their current policies and programs, offers advice and assistance and directs schools to additional resources.

All of this movement towards more physical activity means big strides — not just for physical activity and PE, but for students’ success in school and in life. As Michelle Obama said last February, “this is about so much more than keeping our kids physically active. This is about giving our kids the structure and support they need to thrive in every single aspect of their lives… physical activity is a critical part of that broader effort.”