April 16, 2014

Forum to focus on PE and health

Researchers say an estimated 155 million school-age children and adolescents around the world are either obese or overweight. An event at the University of Northern Iowa this spring will attempt to address the problem.

Christopher Edginton s director of the U.N.I. School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services. He’s says the Global Forum for Physical Education is an invitation only event scheduled for May 13 and 14.

“We have confirmation of 70 invited delegates…the top physical educators and health educators in the world. They’re coming from 30 countries,” Edginton said. The delegates will spend much of their time in Grundy Center, located 30 miles southwest of the U-N-I campus in Cedar Falls.

U.N.I. professors and students have partnered with Grundy Center Schools on a program that could change how physical education is taught in schools. Edginton says the curriculum involves students equipped with heart-rate monitors, pocket size computers and other fitness technology.

“Children are learning in different ways today and we need to insure that the environments that are organized reflect contemporary knowledge and skills that 21st century learners have at their disposal,” Edginton said. The forum is designed to examine how universities and schools are preparing future K-12 health and physical education teachers.

“Many physical education programs are built around a sport model or a skill acquisition model,” Edginton said. “We really want

broader themes – nutrition, stress – and ways we can promote these ideas throughout a person’s entire life.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 19% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 in U.S. are obese.

Recent studies indicate the costs from childhood obesity-associated illnesses in the U.S. have risen from $35 million to $127 million in the past decade.