"On the Road to a Healthier and Physically Fit Nation": Rallying the Public: Ideas for Organizing Effective Advocacy Rallies

Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, November-December 2007 | Go to article overview

"On the Road to a Healthier and Physically Fit Nation": Rallying the Public: Ideas for Organizing Effective Advocacy Rallies


Introduction

Even during a banner sales year, Nike keeps promoting the value of its products every day. That same approach needs to be taken with physical education and sport. Physical educators have a career long responsibility to promote quality physical education programs, and to think of many unique approaches for doing so. While May: National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and National Physical Education and Sport Week (May 1-7), are perfect opportunities to raise awareness with the public about the importance of quality sport and physical education programs for every child in America, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) encourages you to promote physical education throughout the entire year.

One of the most effective ways to rally the public in support of physical education is to organize an advocacy rally at your state capitol. Please share the ideas below with your members, legislative committee, and allies around your state. While every state is unique in its political issues, opinion makers, size and legislative process, the following steps will serve as an outline of actions to take. Please tailor them for your specific needs.

What is an Advocacy Rally?

An advocacy rally is an event that brings supporters from around the state to the capitol on the same day. It takes time to organize, but is a good way to publicly share a message and meet with legislators all at once. Meeting in person with elected officials and/or legislative staff is the most effective means of political advocacy.

Step 1 Choose a single topic or piece of legislation

* Talk with others about your idea

* Establish an advocacy network--phone numbers and email addresses so that information can be relayed quickly

* Develop goals and key message points

* Identify key communicators: articulate, impressive, energetic members and supporters who will speak with the legislators and media

Step 2 Get on the official activities calendar for the state legislature

* Set a date and time

* Call pertinent offices to see if there is an ideal time to advocate on that issue

* Will you have guest speakers? Will you have students perform?

* Arrange for an area to perform/speak

* Create a name for your event--it will be included on the activities for the day

* Try to stay away from a Monday or Friday (some legislators take long weekends or live far from the capitol)

Step 3 Develop appropriate state affiliate partnerships

* AHPERD

* Action for Healthy Kids

* American Cancer Society

* American Diabetes Association

* American Heart Association

* American Public Health Association

* Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports

* National Coalition on Promoting Physical Activity

* National PTA/PTO

* National Recreation and Parks Association

* State Medical Associations and subgroups

** i.e., pediatricians, family practice physicians, cardiologists, etc.

* YMCA of USA

Step 4 Identify allies and begin working together

* Legislators

** Work with a legislator who will serve as the "champion" for your issue. …

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