CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the rush of end-of-session business, we hope Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale keeps an eye out for a simple bill aimed at nudging West Virginia children toward a healthier, fitter future.
Senate Bill 455, called "Move to Improve," is in the Senate Education Committee and worthy of attention and passage. It would require 30 minutes of physical activity be integrated into the school day for elementary and middle school students, and it specifies minimum amounts of physical education at all levels.
But the requirement is very flexible, not onerous. Teachers and principals may incorporate physical activity into their day as suits them best. A number of schools are already doing so. In the Gazette's series "The Shape We're In," we found educators who used the gathering time before school day begins to dance, jump rope, bounce balls and wake up their bodies and minds. We saw kindergarteners practice new vocabulary words by getting up and moving around like animals - slither, hop, fly.
SB 455 would signal to all schools that a modest amount of daily exercise is an important priority for the state's children, and give schools an official motivation to share and borrow good ideas with each other.
If you doubt that such a simple change is worth worrying about, consider:
SB 455 is sponsored by a dozen senators and is supported by the state Board of Education, both major teachers' organizations and several child advocacy groups.
It's a good idea because children do not learn only what adults tell them. Children learn what adults show them. If it is important to incorporate some physical activity into the day, as all the best physical and neuroscience indicates, schools can help teach that habit by modeling that good behavior from an early age.