American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

It’s that time of year again when report cards are sent home and children anxiously anticipate how their parents will react. Some report cards will undoubtedly receive coveted placement on the refrigerator, while others will be grounds for a stern lecture (or worse). Unfortunately, the 2016 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children & Youth, sponsored by ACE and released by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, falls into the latter category.

American children received a “D minus” in “Overall Physical Activity,” a “D minus” in “Sedentary Behaviors,” and a “D” in “Health-Related Fitness.”

So, should American children be grounded and sent to their room? Of course, not. They should be sent outside to play (assuming the environment is safe, but that’s a blog post for another day)!

We certainly can’t blame kids for these grades. Their grades reflect years of misguided policymaking, poor community design and a shift in societal values that have engineered physical activity out of the lives of children and youth. These grades are simply a product of the environment we have created for American children and youth.

At ACE, we are determined to use the Report Card as a rallying cry for the nation, and we are relying on ACE Certified Professionals, in particular, to fundamentally change America’s sedentary youth culture.

“Improving the results of the nation’s Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth will require a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach to create a culture that supports and encourages positive movement experiences for children,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for American Council on Exercise. “ACE is proud to sponsor the Report Card and is committed to promoting the three core values of physical literacy for youth: ability, confidence and a desire to be physically active for life.”

So, what can an ACE Certified Professional do to fundamentally change America’s sedentary youth culture? Seems like maybe a little too daunting of a task, right? Well, first, it’s important to understand that national change starts at the local level, and every effort matters.

Here are a few ideas from ACE to help you get started:

Complete the Youth Fitness Specialist Program
Earn continuing education credits and get the knowledge and skills needed for creating customized and organized fitness programs for children and teens.

Become a community advocate and champion for youth fitness
ACE’s Advocacy Center and staff are here to help. You can do it!

Bring Operation FitKids to your local school district
This free physical activity curriculum for children in grades 3 through 8 was designed to help educators integrate health and fitness into classroom learning.

Start a community walking program using the ACE toolkit, “Walk the Talk”
This toolkit was designed to help create a culture of health that values and supports walking as a fundamental physical activity.

Become familiar with the ACEFit Youth Fitness Resources
Videos, articles, recipes and more to empower you to improve the health and well-being of children and youth.

Know your facts by reviewing ACE’s Youth Fitness Research
Arm yourself with unbiased, science-based health and fitness information to better support your efforts to get people moving.