Wed | May 23, 2018

Make PE mandatory for all students, says expert

Published:Wednesday | February 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Students Kimarly Scott, Malik Rickets and Jaheem Montique compete in a race at the St Annie's Primary Sports day held at the Breezy Castle centre on Tuesday.

The Paediatric Association of Jamaica is strongly suggesting that physical education (PE) should no longer be optional after third form, but now be mandatory for all students up to grade 11.

That call came from Dr Abigail Harrison, who heads the association, during the Heart Foundation of Jamaica's Global Health Advocacy Campaign Obesity Prevention programme, which was held at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

She indicated that it is crucial that young people understand the value of healthy lifestyles, as the negative effects of poor habits result in exorbitant burden on the health sector.

"Schools must not have an option to drop PE to facilitate English, math, physics, chemistry or any other subject. Schools should insist that every student has at least one extra-curricular activity which incorporates some sort of physical activity," the medical practitioner said.

"We want to make sure that there are safe spaces in the schools because track and field cannot be for athletes alone, which in most cases is only one per cent of the school. Everybody should have access at some point."

She also said that the out-of-control crime rate cannot be ignored, as the issue can stifle initiatives that encourage citizens to walk and run.

"We need more safe spaces. Currently, we are not a safe country, and that's a concern. You tell persons to walk, but the truth is, if you don't live close to Emancipation Park (New Kingston) you have a problem. How many of us can just arbitrarily venture out at 8 p.m. after work and get a few minutes of walking done? It's just not safe," said Harrison.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com