Students Need Quality PE Every Day


Beginning in 2005, Ontario's provincial policy mandates that all students from Grades 1 to 8 must receive at least 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every school day during instructional time; this is known as the Daily Physical Activity. The DPA is part of the government's "Healthy Schools Plan" and can range from students doing jumping jacks beside their desks to going for a walk, or playing physically active games in the classroom.
On average, regular PE or gym class only occurs twice a week for students under grade 9. In Ontario public high schools, gym class becomes an elective after grade 9 which has resulted in a sharp decline in student gym participation. While the provincial government's DPA initiative recognizes the importance of youth exercise and attempts to institutionalize regular fitness, the program falls short of actually meeting students' physical health needs, and it does not apply to high school students. That is why physical education needs a major facelift in Ontario.
In 2013, the National Academy of Medicine published a report stating students should be doing at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity at school, with more than half of the activity occurring during regular educational hours. In America, there is a movement to get the Department of Education to actually designate physical education as a core subject like math and reading, which reflects the level of importance fitness shares in a child's cognitive development.
All in all, this means that 20 minutes of classroom physical activity a day, infrequent gym classes, and optional team participation is not doing enough for students' health. There is a predominate culture of viewing gym class as merely "play time" interrupting regular lessons, and students in public schools are not required to join a team sport. However, more and more research is illustrating how important physical education at school is for a student's mental development and physical health (and that's without going into the added mental benefits of fitness, like reduced stress).
This is why lower school students at St. Jude's Academy take PE every day. In addition to regular gym class, each student participates in field days and is encouraged to take athleticism beyond the school. In grades 5-8, St. Jude’s delves deeply into the athletics with skiing, curling, rock climbing and tennis. Instead of going skiing or curling once a year, our students go multiple times in order to become proficient in these areas. St. Jude’s is a member of the Small School Athletic Federation (SSAF). With the SSAF, the school participates in competitive team sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, and track.


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