Physical Education American Alliance for Health Recreation and Dance
Program, Organizational Structure, Membership and Financial Support, History and Development
The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) is the only voluntary professional organization in the world that brings together teachers, students, administrators, and practitioners in these related fields. AAHPERD's mission is to promote healthy lifestyles by supporting quality programs in health, physical education, recreation, dance, and sports. AAHPERD also strives to provide members with professional development opportunities that improve skills and encourage sound professional practices. Members come from elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, dance and sports training centers, health care institutions, and various government and voluntary agencies.
The central concern of AAHPERD is motivating people of all ages to achieve and maintain physical fitness, health, and well-being. Most alliance programs are responses to this concern. Through clinics conducted by master teachers, educators learn new ways of instructing large groups, improvising in the use of inexpensive equipment, and using available space creatively and effectively. AAHPERD programs demonstrate that when young people have opportunities to learn individual sports, as opposed to traditional team sports, they are more likely to build sports activity into their daily regimens and continue it throughout their lives.
The alliance is deeply concerned with the health problems of the day and especially with the way in which teachers may deal more effectively with such problems as accidents, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, diet and obesity, and sexually transmitted diseases. AAHPERD encourages teachers, parents, and adult leaders to take greater responsibility for educating children and youth about the hazards of smoking, drinking, drug abuse, overeating, and other unhealthy behaviors.
Aware of the need for increased recreation opportunities for urban populations, the alliance has involved its members in planning for recreational facilities and programming sports and physical activities for children and youth in American cities. Health educators in the alliance are involved with service programs in the inner city, as well as in isolated rural areas.
AAHPERD is particularly concerned with promoting physical fitness and health education in American elementary, middle, and high schools. The alliance supports efforts to improve teacher salaries and to have a greater share of the national income apportioned for school needs. AAHPERD has also taken up such issues as the scheduling of physical education activities, particularly in light of the pressures of academic requirements. Other issues of importance to AAHPERD are the age at which social values can best be taught and the school's responsibility for teaching sex education to students. Another major concern of the alliance is the extent to which the school should be open for activity beyond the traditional school day, week, and year, and the place of sports and athletics in the extended school schedules.
Programs for young people include Jump Rope for Hearts and Hoops for Hearts, which are popular educational fund-raising events sponsored jointly by AAHPERD and the American Heart Association and held in thousands of American elementary and middle schools. These events help raise funds for educational programs that teach students the benefits of physical activity and for medical research and programs that help prevent heart disease and stroke.
AAHPERD also organizes conferences, workshops, and other professional meetings; develops standards for health and physical fitness education; interprets problems and issues to the public; and maintains relationships with organizations and agencies that have similar agendas. The alliance awards scholarships and recognition awards for distinctive contributions to the profession of health and physical fitness education. Through their journals, newsletters, and other publications, AAHPERD facilitates professional exchange and helps disseminate research findings. Publications include the monthly Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; the monthly Physical Activity Today, which offers important research findings about sports, health, and physical fitness; the bimonthly Strategies magazine; the American Journal of Health Education, a refereed journal for professional health educators and researchers; the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, which publishes articles about research in the science of human movement; and Update, the alliance's member newsletter.
AAHPERD holds an annual national convention, which includes workshops, conferences, sessions, and activities covering such topics as recreation, lifestyles and fitness, aging, physical education, and dance technology. The convention includes a major exposition where fitness, sporting goods, and publishing companies can exhibit products and services related to the interests of the alliance and its members.
AAHPERD is an alliance of six national associations, six geographic district associations, and a research consortium. The district associations are central, eastern, midwestern, northwestern, southern, and southwestern. Each district elects it own officers, including a representative to the national board of directors. There are fifty-three state associations, including those for Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia.
The six national associations each represent a special interest area. The National Dance Association (NDA) promotes sound professional practices in dance education. The American Association for Leisure and Recreation (AALR) supports professional recreation practitioners, educators, and students who advance the profession through creative recreation experiences. The American Association for Health Education (AAHE) helps health care professionals promote good health through education. The National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) promotes professional practices in sports and physical activity through research and dissemination of information to the public. The National Association for Girls and Women in Sports (NAGWS) recommends guidelines and standards for women's athletic programs in colleges and schools and works for gender equity by fighting for equal funding, equal quality, and respect for girls' and women's sports programs. The American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness (AAALF) helps educators conduct programs concerning physical activity and fitness. Members of AAHPERD's six national associations who are interested in research can also join the Research Consortium, which provides services and publications in support of alliance research.
A sixteen-member board of governors is the executive arm of the alliance, and as such it initiates and transacts alliance business. Members of the board meet twice a year–in the fall and in the spring. The board is made up of a president, past president, president-elect, and one representative from each of the six associations and six districts.
Committees carry on a large share of the alliance's work and serve as a means by which members throughout the nation assist in planning, recommending policy, and giving direction to alliance programs. AAHPERD maintains twelve standing committees and organizes special committees as the need arises. Each committee is charged with responsibility for some part of the alliance's work.
In addition, some of the AAHPERD headquarters staff are specialists in various aspects of health education and recreation and offer consultation services to members and to national groups. They serve as liaisons with divisions and committees and act as directors of special projects.
Membership and Financial Support
Membership in the alliance is open to all who are professionally engaged in health education, school nursing, safety education, physical education, athletics, recreation, and dance. Students in programs of professional preparation may become members and are entitled to special students rates. Others interested in supporting the alliance's activities may become associate or contributing members. In 2001 AAHPERD served over 26,000 members.
Most of the alliance's funds come from grants for special projects, the sale of professional publications, and membership fees, with a small amount coming from advertising and other miscellaneous sources.
History and Development
The history of the alliance closely parallels the development of physical education as a part of the curriculum in U.S. schools and colleges. In 1885 William Gilbert Anderson, a physical fitness instructor in Brooklyn, New York, invited a group of gymnastics trainers to gather and discuss their profession; this group became the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education. In 1893 the organization had its first contact with the National Education Association (NEA), when the latter sponsored the International Congress on Education and included physical education and hygiene as a program topic.
In 1903 the organization changed its name to the American Physical Education Association. A committee on women's athletics was formed in 1917, beginning one of the most influential interest groups within the association. In 1937 the association became a department of the NEA, when it merged with the NEA's Department of School Health and Physical Education. A Division of Recreation was established, and in 1938 the name was changed to include this interest area. The National Dance Association became an official AAHPERD association in 1974, and the name changed again to reflect the status of dance in the organization.
AMERICAN ALLIANCE FOR HEALTH, PHYSICAL EDUCATION, RECREATION, AND DANCE. 2002. <www.aahperd.org>.
CARL A. TROESTER JR.
JUDITH J. CULLIGAN
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