When it comes to his passion for the physical education field, Tim Hamel doesn’t just talk the talk – he also walks the walk – all the way to Washington, D.C., where he recently attended the SHAPE America SPEAK Out! Day to advocate in support of physical and health education for school age children across the country.
As the current vice president of physical education for the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) organization’s board of directors, Hamel is a staunch advocate for the physical education profession. He, along with his fellow board members in CAHPERD, ascended on D.C. to discuss the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), formerly known No Child Left Behind.
“The big deal for physical and health education is there used to be so much talk about how these should be common core subjects like math and history, but that was never the case,” Hamel said. “Under the ESSA act, there’s s a term called ‘well-rounded education’, which means health and physical education are entitled to federal funding now, which is a huge step.”
Through this opportunity, Hamel and his colleagues served as representatives of California and were able to meet with members of Congress at the state senate building, including Congressman Jeff Denham, representing the 10th District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as Congressman of the 22nd District, Devin Nunes, which represents Fresno and Tulare Counties.
For Hamel and his colleagues, this opportunity provided by The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America organization can be summed up in one word – phenomenal.
“It was thrilling and can be intimidating when you’re sitting next to a congressman and talking about these issues,” Hamel said, as he recounted his first time at the U.S. capitol. “We were able to connect with the congressmen on an emotional level. When we walked into Nunes’ office and said we represent physical and health education, he mentioned his wife is a track coach, so we knew he values physical education and movement. When we talked to Denham, he said his family has a history of diabetes so he understands and is all in.”
Physical education is a cause close to Hamel, as he has been teaching in the area for the past 16 years, at Fresno State, where he is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology. He said physical activity is just as vital to a child’s growth as any other subject taught in the school system.
“There’s so much data out about the movement aspect of children and how it enhances brain and cognitive functioning,” said Hamel. “Study after study over the past eight years in neuroscience has supported the positive effects of movement and its positive impact on learning.”
In December of 2015, the ESSA Act was passed by Congress through an overwhelming bi-partisan vote. In total, $1.65 billion was voted to allocate; however, President Obama’s administration countered with $500 million. According to Hamel, his SPEAK Out! group asked the congressmen and staffers to adhere to ‘congressional integrity’ regarding the initial proposed funding. This would allow for more funding opportunity for the fields of Physical and Health Education, said Hamel.
“It’s a big deal for us to be included to have an opportunity to receive federal funding for Physical and Health Education and it is satisfying to be looked at as a real academic subject. Before we were getting the crumbs of the money and now we can sit down at the table and eat.”
For more information, contact Tim Hamel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559.278.6049.