In February my wife and I rented an award winning documentary entitled "Super Size Me" . It's an amazing story about a New Yorker by the name of Morgan Spurlock (that's Morgan with the french fries stuffed in his mouth) who sets out on a quest to eat McDonald's food (and only McDonald's food) for 30 days. He looks at the legal, financial and physical costs of America's hunger for fast food. It's funny and it's scary. The short story is that many Americans are killing themselves with fast food. Particularly frightening is the rapid increase of childhood obesity.
During the film, Morgan visits a school outside of Chicago and meets with a physical education teacher named Phil Lawler who has taught for 29 years. Phil and his colleagues have developed a physical education program unlike any I've seen or heard of. Only 6% of the students at his school are overweight or obese (because of the program). This is truly remarkable when you consider 70% of the general population in the US is either overweight or obese.
I was so moved by Phil's story and work that I contacted him via email after watching the movie. He called me the next day and we talked at length about his work with students around creating a healthy lifestyle.
And for all of you teachers and parents out there, here is some radical news: EVERY student K-12 at Phil's school attends PE classes EVERY day (contrast this with the kids in my area who get PE once a week for 20 minutes). "But what about test scores?" you say. Everyone knows that PE takes away from classroom time. And if you take away from classroom time, test scores drop. Right?! "Not exactly" says Phil. Their test scores are higher than average. And the best part is they have healthy kids in the school.
Phil shares his excitement for the work I do because, he says, teaching team and leadership skills through experiential exercises is the best thing he does. Phil organizes an annual conference serving 1500 PE teachers and invited me to present two teambuilding games workshops.