KANSAS CITY, MO — Physical education (PE) professionals deserve more respect than schools give them. That was the message from Phil Lawler, the director of the PE4life Academy in Naperville, IL, at the PE4life Summit in early October in Kansas City, MO. More than 200 PE teachers, PE advocates, school administrators, nurses and health and wellness professionals gathered for the conference.

“We have been the Rodney Dangerfields of education for a long time,” Lawler said during his keynote. “No respect.”

To garner that respect, Lawler has helped Naperville become a school with cutting edge PE programs, including making class more like a visit to a health club than a dodge ball tournament. Lawler noted that after the age of 24, only 3 percent of adults use sports for physical activity. He asked, “What was our long-term goal to society?”

Naperville's PE approach focuses on lifestyle activities such as biking, walking and jogging and is at the heart of PE4life's nonprofit mission.

Other breakout sessions at the summit focused on harnessing community involvement be it with health clubs, health departments, local hospitals or even retail companies. Terry Flynn of Blue Valley Kansas School District in Overland Park, KS, addressed the group about having fitness facilities visit the schools for testing or to teach group exercise classes. Other breakout session topics included nutrition, activity and achievement research, the latest technology and experiences at other PE4life academies.