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Breon Schroeder Derby Spearfish SD and Chadron NE

Some individuals may remember a time where ‘gym’ class revolved around an unstructured chaos of playing dodge-ball, being picked last for teams, and sitting on the sidelines while the instructor focused on getting his or her athletes prepared for the big game. This ‘roll out the ball’ era is a stigma that continues to plague the field of physical education.

Having progressed well beyond ‘gym’ class, the field, as its name suggests, focuses on education; a continuous process that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources necessary to enhance their well-being throughout their lifetime. Unlike other content areas, physical education focuses on the development of the whole child by emphasizing the three domains of learning: 1). Cognitive, 2). Affective and, 3). Psychomotor.

Physical education not only provides individuals with the opportunity to engage in physical activity, but it also offers a diverse, standards-based curriculum and a variety of quality assessment practices so that each student can find something they enjoy and will continue to participate in throughout their lifetime. In addition, the physical education environment fosters real-world skills essential to being successful in today’s competitive job market, such as teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility. Physical education also plays a crucial role when it comes to high stakes testing and financial gain for school districts, as several studies have shown a link between physical activity and academic success.   “Exercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus” (Ratey, 2008, p.53).  It has been proven that healthier students learn better (CDC, 2014a). Quality physical education can aid in student success by decreasing absenteeism, increasing fitness levels, and enhancing cognitive function.

However, despite the vast advantages physical education provides, including the education on the one thing people use every day, their bodies, it is often the first content area to be let go when school districts are faced with budget cuts.  With over $147 billion dollars spent annually on preventable, obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (CDC, 2014b), educating students on the importance of lifetime physical activity through quality, daily physical education could have a substantial impact on both the health and economic status of our nation. If people are truly concerned about the success and well-being of our students, our future, they will get informed and become an advocate for quality, daily physical education.

Breon Schroeder Derby has a B.S in Physical education with minors in health and coaching from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. She has a M.Ed in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in PE from Chadron State College and is currently working on her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Health Education from A.T Still University. Breon taught physical and health education at Lead Deadwood High School and for the past two years was an instructor in the HPER department at Chadron State College. She currently serves as instructor of HPER at BHSU.

Libby Char, Hawaii

Despite her extremely busy work schedule as an emergency physician, as the Medical Director for EMS and several of Hawaii’s first responder agencies and the  American Heart Association Hawaii Division Board President Libby Char, M.D. still finds time to support American Heart Association policy efforts to make Hawaii healthier.

She sees the value of using policy change as a way to more quickly and efficiently change public norms that will result in improved public health.  Dr. Char has supported our efforts this year to require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects, requiring all high school students to receive CPR training prior to graduation, and development of policy aimed at improving Hawaii’s stroke system of care.

Just one example of the great work Char has done was earlier this year when she, along with other AHA volunteer advocates, met with the Hawaii Dept. of Education assistant superintendent of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, Leila Hayashida, to propose changes to the high school health class curriculum that would require CPR instruction to be included. Completion of a health class is required for graduation.

AHA volunteers also worked with Hawaii Department of Health representatives to provide funding to the DOE to purchase CPR manikins and training equipment for health classes. AHA CPR trainers also taught the DOE’s health class resource teachers in how to implement simple “hands-only” CPR training, so that they can train the classroom instructors.

The AHA’s “hands-only” CPR can be taught in just one class period. Dr. Char believes that every student should receive that life-saving lesson prior to graduation. In places like Seattle where this type of policy has been mandated survival rates from cardiac arrest have risen to above 60 percent, while in Hawaii survival rates remain below the national average of approximately 30 percent. Imagine if every high school student going forward learned CPR in school how many more people in our communities could be prepared to save a life.

Brittany Badicke, Oregon

My name is Brittany Badicke, and I’m one of AHA’s Oregon Advocacy Interns. This summer, I’ll be working on our Tobacco Control efforts, with the ultimate goal of giving more Oregonians access to resources to help them quit smoking, and ensuring fewer actually start smoking. Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of disease in Oregon.

I grew up in Longview, Washington and after graduating high school became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and began pre-requisites for nursing school. Thinking acute care was my niche, and with more opportunity to work in an acute care setting in Oregon, I earned my CNA II acute care license and moved to Portland, Oregon. After years of working as a CNA, and meeting several patients that were suffering from preventable diseases, I realized that my passion is in health promotion and disease prevention, which led me to pursue a degree in health education.

Currently, I am a Health Studies student at Portland State University where I will graduate with my Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education in March of 2015. After graduating, my goal is to put my undergraduate degree and passion for promoting healthy behavior to use in the field before applying to the dual MPH/MSW program at Portland State University.

In the future, I’d like to dedicate my time to promoting healthy behavior focusing on education and systematic change, which is why I am beyond thrilled to be an intern for the American Heart Association! I am excited about this wonderful opportunity to learn and practice advocacy skills while gaining hands-on experience that is impossible to learn in a classroom, as well as to meet and work with like-minded people that are actively working for healthier communities.

We have a lot of work to do over the next few months and it’s only with the help of volunteers that we’ll be able to accomplish our goals for a healthier and safer Oregon. I wanted to introduce you to one of those important people, Grace Clark, our newest advocacy volunteer.

Grace is working as a Research and Outreach Coordinator on two of our obesity prevention campaigns: Junk Food Marketing (banning it in schools, that is) and Safe Routes to Schools (ensuring kids have safe, active ways of getting to school). Both of these efforts are part of AHA’s national initiative, Voices for Healthy Kids.

Grace comes to Oregon by way of the University of New Mexico, with a BS in Nutrition/Dietetics. She is currently a dietary aide at a rehab and specialty care hospital. Grace is excited to gain experience advocating for policy and would like to become a Registered Dietician. New to Oregon, she is happy to be here and loving the greenery.

Here’s what Grace wanted to share with you about why she cares about ensuring everyone has a chance to make healthy lifestyle choices:

“When I started school at the University of New Mexico I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Because I had always been involved in the theaters in my schools and community, it seemed like the logical next step to get involved in theatre in college. Long story short, I did not like the theater program at UNM and was in great need of a change.

“During this time I had started to develop certain health issues that caused me to pay very close attention to what I ate, this lead me to become fascinated by food and how it can make/break your body. Plus, I started dating a chef, so it was a natural progression for my life to become centered on food. After taking my first formal nutrition course I discovered that there was an actual major called Nutrition/Dietetics, and the rest is history!

“I officially became a Nutrition/Dietetics major and the deeper I got into the program the more passionate I became about reaching out and helping others, especially those who may be unable to help themselves. I am still unsure about my exact path, but through this opportunity with the AHA I am discovering a whole new way to fulfill my passion. I am excited about working with everyone and look forward to where this opportunity will take me!”

Feel free to send Grace a note of welcome, or to let her know if you’d like to get involved on either of these campaigns: t-grace.clark@heart.org.

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