The Role of Directors of Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs-Part 1: Changes in the Profession Give Physical Educators More Opportunities to Make a Difference

Article excerpt

It is clear that the United States has an obesity crisis. What is less clear is what to do about it and, more specifically, what the role of schools and physical educators should be in promoting physical activity and preventing obesity and its related health problems.

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All children spend a good part of their day in school, but it is unlikely in the near future that most schools will be able to provide daily physical education to meet the physical activity needs of children. For this reason, physical educators and health professionals have looked to schools to implement a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) as part of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education's (NASPE) Let's Move in School initiative. Such programs are an all-school effort to meet the physical activity needs of children and youths. Even though the most likely professional to lead this program is the physical educator, most physical educators do not see directing a CSPAP as their responsibility, nor are they trained to provide this kind of leadership.

This two-part feature was designed to describe NASPE's initiative to train and certify physical education teachers to be directors of physical activity (DPAs) whose responsibility is to implement a CSPAP effectively. The purpose of this feature is to describe the role of the physical educator in implementing the components of CSPAPs. While physical education instructional programs are a critical component of a CSPAP, this feature highlights the role of the other four components--physical activity throughout the school day, before-and after-school programs, staff involvement, and community and family involvement--as well as the certification process for DPAs. Each of these is addressed in the articles of this JOPERD feature.

Following the Russell Carson article on the "Certification and Duties of a Director of Physical Activity," the balance of the feature is organized around the components of a CSPAP. These articles briefly review the available literature surrounding each CS-PAP component and provide some pragmatic ideas that a DPA can use to implement the components. Accordingly, these articles should be viewed as an introduction to the kinds of CSPAP implementation strategies a DPA might enact. Physical educators who are interested in learning about additional strategies for implementation are encouraged to become DPA certified. …