Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives

Kids: Do you think P.E. should be mandatory in schools?

This was one of twenty-five questions I asked kids from all walks of life for the non-profit Shine The Light On Kids. In 2010, I traveled to 41 states covering 18,000 miles because I wanted to hear from the kids themselves what they wanted and needed to live healthier lives. The data collected was analyzed by Sonoma State University.

Here’s the answer right from the kids:

92.0% of kids said that physical education (P.E.) should be mandatory in schools. 2.3% said no, it should not be mandatory, and 5.7% said other. The ‘other’ was usually from kids who were on sports team who thought P.E. should be by choice and not mandatory if they played sports.

Kids kept telling me that if school didn’t make them exercise, they probably would not and they knew they needed to. They were also forthcoming with what worked or did not work for them.

For examples:

• If they were overweight, they said they were not comfortable running laps in front of other kids, but still want to exercise. Programs need to be developed with all kids in mind.

• Many said they would be more excited about play-exercise such as games like dodge ball, rather than running ‘boring laps.’ They’d have more fun and would be more likely to participate.

• Timing is important. The kids said they get antsy sitting all day and would like gym class in the middle of the day.

• Many kids said that often the gym-teacher allows kids to sit down during gym class and they feel that gym class is thought of as a free period instead of essential. If we’re not serious about physical fitness, they won’t be. Out of the mouths of babes.

Kids are much wiser and intuitive than most adults give them credit for. A panel of students assisting in the creation of programs for gym class would help with participation. If kids are part of the process, they are more likely to be part of the solution. By the Kids, For the Kids.

There are 24 other questions, below, that you will want to know the answers to!

1. What does health mean to you?
2. Do you think you are healthy? If yes, why? If not, why not?
3. Is your family healthy? Do you think they have healthy habits?
4. How do you know what food is healthy and what is not?
5. Are you ever hungry because your family does not have enough to eat?
6. Do you know how to read the nutritional value label on your food? If no, would you like to learn?
7. What foods give you the best energy?
8. Do you think your diet affects your grades?
9. Is there something you really love to do, a passion? Do you think you could do that if you weren’t healthy?
10. Do you exercise? How often?
11. Do you think P.E. should be mandatory in schools?
12. Do you think the food you eat affects your how you feel; your mood?
13. Do you know how to cook? What can you cook?
14. Do you eat at a table? With whom?
15. Do you understand how your body works? If not, would you like to learn? Do you think you would you be healthier if you understood?
16. What did you have for breakfast?
17. What vegetables did you eat yesterday?
18. Do you think that where you live affects your health? Why?
19. Are you concerned about the affordability of your food?
20. Do you think the Earth’s health affects your health?
21. Are you concerned about the safety of your food and water?
22. How many hours of sleep to you get a night?
23. Is religion or spiritual practice a part of you and your family’s life?
24. Do you know where does your food come from? How it is processed?
25. What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?

Do you want to know the other answers? The data will be released at Chop’s DeMeo Teen Center in Santa Rosa on May 1st. We will also introduce our Program Director, our new name, our corporate sponsors and partners. You will learn all about the five health programs that we have developed based on what the kids said they wanted and needed to be healthier. Pilot Programs for ten kids are at Chop’s this summer and you’ll hear all about that as well.

Join us for food, drink and music, and inspiration-from our kids!


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2 Responses

  1. Keligator James says

    11. I believe Phsycal education should be mandatory in schools because child obesity is at an all time high. If kids were just forced to get up and move for 30 minutes to an hour each day then they would be so much healthier. Also, there are mental effects of exercising in kids too. Higher test grades and better focus in school are examples. Also, kids are less likely to engage in tobacco use, and are less likely to suffer from insomnia, depression, or anxiety. All in all, Kids will be healthier and happier if physical education in schools is mandatory.

    • Keligator James says

      Excellent point Kelligator!