50 Million Strong by 2029 – It Starts with Us!

After attending SHAPE America sessions where the 50 Million Strong by 2029 commitment was unveiled and explained, I began thinking, “What can I do as an individual to further this exciting vision?”  As a retired secondary HPE teacher – coach, I now work facilitating our Sheboygan (WI) Area School District’s Pre K PE program in what began as an Emeritus project.  The Early Learning Center houses approximately 600 children ages 3 – 5.  These are the graduating students of 2029, so what better place to begin promoting 50 Million Strong!

During the preparation of developing a plan to promote 50 Million Strong, I developed the following eight guidelines to help us reach the SHAPE America goal:

  1. Design/implement lessons teaching fundamental skills based upon standards and assessments.
  2. Integrate curriculum using literacy, math; PBIS (positive behavior according to a school goal).
  3. Place emphasis upon physical activity.
  4. Offer activity events (JRFH, FUTP60, etc.) that involve parent- child interaction of a physical nature.
  5. Conduct parent/other adult educational workshops relative to PE & H literacy.
  6. Promote Health Education inclusion.
  7. Seek out community partnership.
  8. Expand activities into the community beyond school.

When teaching, I regularly followed the first five guidelines, but after the information came out about 50 Million Strong I thought I could do more:

‘Lunch N Learn’ with Ms. Kris, was a five-week adventure whereby I went into my Head Start classroom and ate lunch with them on Tuesdays.  We did MyPlate activities prior to eating while illustrating where parts of our lunch should be placed upon the MyPlate.  Sometimes, we merely socialized during lunch about pets, siblings or places we had visited.  Each week had a health theme such as food safety, hand washing, etc.  All students tried a new food (e.g. avocado), then spelled it out with letter tiles and took a photo near the climbing wall. Our local WIC coordinator from Health & Human services provided me with food stickers and an age appropriate book (Two Bites) for all children.  For homework, children were given a paper MyPlate to take home and construct their own meal with the help of parents.  During the last Tuesday, we showed our homework plates and celebrated a fun learning experience with ‘Lunch N Learn’ certificates for all (meeting guidelines #6, 7).

Other examples of community partnership (guideline #7) included the scooter storage rack and cabinets that were built for us by Home Depot as a community donation.  Likewise, a local chair company provided us with some much needed foam and a new cover for two large mats used in our jumping pits.

With the onset of spring and National Sport & PE week as well as the upcoming Summer Olympics, we engaged in the 4-year old version of ‘Road to Rio.’ Teachers were asked to do a mini-lesson on the Olympics prior to the activities staged during Physical Education. Children marched with the torch and flags and ‘promised’ to follow the rules, respect others; have fun and then the games began.  Foam hurdles, fencing with noodles, cycling on trikes, soccer, field hockey, equestrian galloping around cones, rhythmical gymnastics and kayaking with noodles, supported heart health by actively engaging children in multiple activities.  Literacy in PE & H was visibily on display (#3).


Most schools have some form of parent communication from which teachers relay messages to the home.  As a PE teacher, take the opportunity to be included as I have with the following examples:

Nov. message –  CDC and nationally recognized professionals in Health and wellness have indicated that children who experience proper nutrition, adequate sleep; physical activity are better suited for academic success.  Read the book The Rechargeables by TomRath with your child (can be obtained from ELC library).

Dec. message –  Heart Disease is a primary killer of our US population.  It can be prevented by engaging in a physically active lifestyle and with good nutrition.  Please participate with your child during ELC – American Heart Association ‘Gingerbread Run’ and donate financially to support AHA during our all school Gingerbread House Making Event (#4, #8).


Currently, I am engaged in a special ‘PE Buddies’ project with the Head Start group.  I recruited twelve Seniors from neighboring South High and they come on Tuesdays to ‘Play, Learn; Grow’ with my children during PE.  Hopefully by 2029, when the Pre K’s are Seniors, they will remember this experience and be prepared to ‘pay it forward’ / yes, “50 Million . . .” ‘Stronger Together’ for relationships developed with their PE Buddies.


Only a few weeks into the project, here is what is being said as we have been meeting guidelines #1,2,3,8) :

“Yeah, PE Buddies come today!” (4 yr. old)

“So far this has been fun and enjoyable”(South student)

“It has been fun moving with them and developing personal bonds” (South student)  “I love my PE Buddy” (4 yr. old)

“This has been a good learning and service project for our students, they come back to the high school and verbalize what they and the 4 yr. olds have done in PE” (South advisor)

As a Wisconsin SHAPE (WHPE) Past President, I help develop our yearly advocacy event where several members staff an educational booth and others present a  breakout session at the Wisconsin State School Administrator/School Board (WASB) Convention.  Our 2017 session, “50 Million Strong – It Starts with Us!” will describe the 50 Million Strong by 2029 commitment and is sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Market Board/ FUTP 60.  We will share the SHAPE America 50 Million Strong by 2029 brochure, offer a power point with information on additional resources and involve our audience physically with interactive learning examples across the Pre K–12 levels (guideline #8).

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It’s my hope that this article has provided you with some ideas on how you can “Unleash you Inner Champion” as suggested by SHAPE America board member Judy Lo Bianco.  I encourage you to ‘Live Your Passion’ and get involved in promoting 50 Million Strong by 2029 during 2017.  Still not certain how to begin?  Here are a few thoughts on what more you can do personally:

  1. Join the Movement – Count Me In!
  2. Make sure instruction & assessment is based on standards.
  3. Develop & implement a CSPAP.
  4. Involve families in events (JRFH/ Hoops).
  5. Create learning through extended curricular activities (FUTP60).
  6. Offer parent education workshops.
  7. Connect through SHAPE America, district & state professional associations, social media, exchanges, web programs, AHA, FUTP60, Milk Market Boards, etc.
  8. Showcase successful programs through local media & share them with colleagues so they can be replicated.
  9. Advocate (within your school, the community and district and with State and National representatives).

Accept this challenge… get up and ‘Move to Improve/ Catch the Energy’ that will propel our profession into reaching the profession’s 50 Million Strong by 2029 goal.


50 Million Strong Case Studies

Read how your teaching colleagues are showing their commitment to increasing physical activity and bringing good health to their students! Remember - It begins with US (and that includes physical and health educators everywhere!)  


  1. As a friend of mine once pointed out: “A river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

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