Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Phil Lawler: A Legend and a Friend

February 18, 1950 – April 23, 2010

“It’s about enabling each student to maintain a physically-active lifestyle forever. It means emphasizing fitness and wellbeing, not athleticism. It eliminates practices that humiliate students. And it assesses students on their progress in reaching personal physical activity and fitness goals. A [quality] program exposes kids to the fun and long-term benefits of movement – it’s really that simple.”  -- Phil Lawler

Phil Lawler is and will forever remain a legend in the Physical Education world. Recognized as the leader and voice in the quest for quality Physical Education, Phil believed that every child regardless of athletic ability should be given a chance to find an activity that they can embrace and enjoy for a lifetime.  His vision was the catalyst for the creation of PE4life. His passion was unmatched.  To live a life as Phil did–so devoted to the cause you whole-heartedly believe in–is admirable.

After building his innovative Physical Education program at Madison Jr. High in Naperville, IL, Phil went on to train hundreds of Physical Educators and school officials from across the US and from ten countries worldwide.  Phil’s passion and vision has been shared with countless number of Physical Educators, creating accountability and respect for the profession, changing the way it had been perceived for so long.  His favorite quip, saying he is known as the Rodney Dangerfield of PE “I get no respect.”  Creating a loyal following, Phil’s legacy will live on through the many lives he touched.

PE4life founder, Jim Baugh, recalls being inspired by Phil so many years ago. “When I was President of Wilson Sporting Goods and had the vision for PE4life, I did some research into the ‘state of PE’. Thank goodness I worked in the Chicago area and there was a man and school district where Phil Lawler worked. I spent hours with Phil learning about the “New PE” he envisioned. We quickly hit it off. I knew he knew where PE4life should be focused. Phil was a pioneer, leader, and fighter. He not only had a philosophy and approach, he lived it every day. Phil helped me shape PE4life and also re-shaped PE forever. In many ways, he re-shaped America. He will never be forgotten.”

Phil’s vision went beyond teaching methods and was highly sought after from those in the Fitness, Medical, Research and Sporting Equipment Industries.  Phil was often a consultant to numerous equipment companies in development of cutting-edge products that could be used in PE class.  Phil believed that we should embrace video games and today’s technology rather than blame them for sedentary lifestyles.  Additionally, he helped lead the movement of Learning Readiness PE (LRPE) using exercise to help the learning process.  Working closely with Dr. John Ratey, Harvard Brain Researcher, Phil’s work was highlighted in the book SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

Phil advocated for quality physical education on Capitol Hill numerous times, including helping to write the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Grant, which has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for schools, and presenting in front of a House Sub-Committee in 2007.  Phil was featured on the Academy Award nominated documentary “Super Size Me” and in numerous media outlets including USA Today, the Washington Post, the Today Show, Good Morning America and others.

In addition to his work in Physical Education, Phil was an accomplished and renowned baseball coach at Naperville Central High School.  His many honors include winning the 2006 Illinois State Championship, was the first assistant high school baseball coach inducted into the Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame, and most recently had his number (29) retired at Naperville Central’s Varsity Field.

More than just a catalyst for change in the Physical Education world and an inspiration for how to live a fulfilled life, Phil was a friend. We’ll forever be indebted to him for the impact he had on our country’s children and forever grateful for the unwavering friendship he has shown us over the years.

 You will be missed, Phil.


Visitation for Philip Lawler will be on Thursday, April 29, 2010 from 3:00pm – 8:00pm (Rosary at 7:00pm) at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, 2220 Lisson Road, Naperville, IL 60565. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, April 30, 2010 at 10:00am at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, Naperville, IL.  Interment will follow at Naperville Cemetery, Naperville, IL.

Memorial contributions will be directed to a very special project as defined by Phil and the Lawler family.  Contributions can be made to the “Phil Lawler Fund” and send to: PE4life, 127 West 10th Street, Suite 101, Kansas City, MO 64105.

Carrie Gibson, PE4life
127 West 10th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Amusement parks equal successful form of exercise!

I returned yesterday from a four day Disney excursion and upon waking this morning with aching muscles, came to the conclusion that there may not be a better form of exercise than spending a day or two at an amusement park (some bloggers report walking up to 15 miles at Disney World!). Not only are you walking for an entire day, which in itself would give you plenty of exercise, but there’s also a sort of aerobic aspect to dodging all the oversized strollers, overjoyed children, and frazzled parents.

Entirely coincide
ntal, I woke up this morning to an interesting Google Alert. In staying true to the high-energy atmosphere associated with their parks, Disney just released a press release announcing a new partnership with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. Who better suited to tell kids to ‘eat healthy and exercise more’ than Hannah Montana and the other beloved Disney characters? Although there’s no doubt this partnership will likely have a direct effect on the childhood obesity epidemic, I have to wonder if we’ve seen the last of the chocolate covered frozen banana at Disney’s Magic Kingdom…

Moral of this story? If you’
re looking for a fun way to get active with your family AND if you love a good roller coaster, an amusement park is your ticket (no pun intended) to a fun-filled, active day! Plus, the kids won’t even know they’re getting a work out.

Check out this link to find a theme park near you!

9AM - Going strong!

5PM - Done!

Free Ask, Listen, Learn Game!

Proudly debuting the Ask, Listen, Learn Interactive Game!

PE4life and The Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers and dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking have teamed up to develop an interactive application for the XaviX game system to engage youth in physical activity while learning about the negative effects of alcohol on their bodies and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Based on the successful Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix multimedia program, this interactive application is designed for play on the XaviX Game System (XaviXPort and J-Mat) for students ages 10-13. It includes activities such as: running, obstacle courses, side-stepping, dancing and flight archery, all of which require students to be active. The game also incorporates a series of random questions throughout the game that challenge participants’ knowledge about the dangers of underage drinking and the positive impact of healthy decisions.

Nicole Weis, a PE4life Program Support Specialist, gave the application a thumbs up! Check out Nicole work up a sweat and test her knowledge in the Ask, Listen, Learn Game. Click here to see Olympic Speedskater Apolo Ohno play the game at Robert Wagner Middle School in New York City.

PE4life is proud to offer the game and XaviX system to all schools who have attended a PE4life workshop or event. Want one? Let me know!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Everybody’s doing it!

Michelle Obama did it just a few weeks ago. Martha Stewart is famous for doing it. My dad does it every year. What am I talking about? Planting a garden, of course!

Here’s why you should do it:

· Still holding a grudge against Mother Nature for the harsh winter? What better way to get back at her than digging up her precious Earth.

· Planting a garden can actually be quite the workout, so switch out the gym for the dirt, just this once.

· Have a picky eater in your family? Get them involved! Kids will be more open to eating healthy foods if they had a hand in creating them.

· If you know you have $20.00 worth of fruits and vegetables in your back yard that will rot in X number of days, you’re far more likely to eat them.

· We all know that in most cases, eating unhealthy costs less than eating healthy. Growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you money. In some cases, lots of it. I think everyone can appreciate that!

· How often do you get outdoors and in touch with nature? I know I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like. There’s something about spending time with nature that is very rewarding and humbling. So do it!

Still not convinced? Check out these websites, where people are far more persuasive than I am:




Okay, so you’re on board with the homegrown veggies. Now, how the heck do you get started? I could rattle on and on about how I think a garden should be planted. But, why take it from me when there are so many experts out there? Check ‘em out!





Now that you have the whys and the hows, it’s time to get started! So, get out there and get filthy! Your backyard, your body, and your budget will appreciate it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

School Spotlight: Ankeny Community School District

We love to give credit where credit is due! Check out Ankeny Community School District, featured in this quarter's newsletter, and all the positive things going on in their PE program. Keep it up Ankeny!

The mission of the Physical Education and Health programs is to empower each student to make informed decisions to lead healthy and active lifestyles. The secondary schools focus on individual fitness through many formats, and all of the schools are beginning to implement more outdoor education activities. The PE staff will also be starting an annual 5K run for the district next year.

Parkview Middle School (6th/7th grade) begins to introduce the students to the use of technology in PE. Some of the technology at Parkview includes the use of Polar Heart Rate Monitors, and vodcasting to create student lead exercise videos. Parkview focuses on individual lifetime fitness, team sports, and special activities. Many of the activities and team sports incorporate small sided games. Fitness testing is analyzed to drive instruction throughout the year, and used by students to set personal goals. Students attend Health and PE on opposite days.

Northview Middle School (8th/9th grade) has a unique programming style where health and physical education are integrated in an 84 minute block of time every other day. Our students continue the use of the heart rate monitors that were introduced to them at Parkview. Northview also uses the tri-fit system to obtain data on the specific fitness needs of our students and when students leave Northview they receive a report with their two year fitness results. Northview offers our students a variety of activity choices. Every four weeks our students are allowed to choose the activities they would like to participate in for the rotation. This allows our students to have some ownership in their fitness choices and allows them to find activities that they may choose to do for a lifetime. Our goal for our program is to continue to add new activities to our program and integrate our health and physical education curriculum in order to continue to give our students a broad spectrum of skills.

The Ankeny High School Physical Education Program provides for the varying needs of students through curriculum that offers a variety of choices of physical activities. All students must take one of the four PE offerings both semesters of all three years enrolled at the high school level. Offering a variety of activities creates opportunities for exposure to various lifetime activities and sports. The curriculum is designed to promote the development of physical and mental health in addition to providing students with the knowledge and skills that lead to personal wellness. AHS Physical Education emphasizes the importance of establishing and maintaining personal fitness levels, improving interpersonal skills, and encouraging physical activity over a lifetime. Use of technology includes the Polar TriFit computer system as well as the implementation of Ecko Heart Rate Monitors. All students complete Fitnessgram physical fitness testing that helps guide our instruction.

Want your school’s PE program to be featured in our newsletter? Send a brief description of why your PE program deserves the spotlight to msheppard@pe4life.org.