Roanoke College professor, student advocate for physical education funding on Capitol Hill

Dr. Michael Maina (left) and Jake Brabham '15 (right) in Washington D.C.

Dr. Michael Maina (left) and Jake Brabham '15 (right) in Washington D.C.

Salem - A Roanoke College professor and a student were among the hundreds of people on Capitol Hill this week asking lawmakers to support funding for physical education programs in schools.

Dr. Michael Maina, an associate professor in the College's health and human performance department, and Jake Brabham '15, who is majoring in health and physical education, traveled to Washington, D.C., March 11 and 12, to join the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance's annual SPEAK Out Day.

The Reston, Va.-based professional group is seeking additional sponsors of the PHYSICAL Act, a bill that if passed would designate physical and health education as core subjects in schools, making them eligible for federal funding. PHYSICAL Act stands for Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life.

"The group is lobbying to do more with this core subject in schools," Maina said. "With the SOLS [Standards of Learning and Testing], the emphasis is on reading, math. As a result, they [physical education programs] are not being carefully assessed. We need our government to say, 'Hey, kids, health and physical activity is important.'"

This group also will ask lawmakers to continue to support the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, which provides grants, known as PEP funding, to expand or enhance physical education. The program has awarded about $800 million to schools in the past.

Maina and Brabham met with Virginia lawmakers, including Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Congressman Morgan Griffith, to talk about the bill and their interest in continued funding for physical education programs in schools.

The future of this profession depends on these kinds of advocacy efforts, said Maina, who is attending SPEAK Out Day for the first time. He hopes to attend in other years and bring more Roanoke students with him.

"It's teaching our students how to be advocates for our profession," Maina said. "They're going to be the future."

Brabham of Roanoke County said he wants to teach high school physical education and eventually become a college professor.

"PE was a big part of my life when I was growing up," he said.

Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful, undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just seven percent of colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review lists Roanoke as the 18th most beautiful campus in its "Best 376 Colleges" 2012 guidebook.

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Released: March 11, 2014
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