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WVU faculty member helps develop national vision to strengthen physical activity policy

A West Virginia University faculty member was part of a national effort to provide recommendations to expand physical activity for school-aged children in moving past the pandemic.

College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Ware Distinguished Professor Eloise Elliott was one of four principal writers for the national paper entitled Physical Activity Recommendations for Children and Adolescents: More Important Than Ever. The collaborative effort promotes physical activity and sports for children and adolescents, and provides recommendations to enhance physical activity in schools, communities, and homes to improve outcomes.

Elliott says the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences’ mission is to provide resources and related research about physical activity, particularly through the Center for ActiveWV. “We know that COVID has caused lack of physical activity in children and adolescents during the pandemic. The report’s executive summary focuses on schools, communities and homes and will hopefully support educators, caregivers, community stakeholders, policy leaders and others in establishing a shared vision and developing strategies to implement promising practices throughout the environment,” Elliott said. “Numerous societal sectors, such as healthcare systems, businesses, education, public health, community parks and recreation, media and more, can be part of the collaborative effort to implement these recommendations.”

Additionally, Elliott explains that the paper was vetted and distributed nationally and reviewed throughout the country before it was published. “The papers promote physical activity based on research and evidence-informed practices. Our hope is that these recommendations will empower stakeholders, decision makers and the public overall to take action to improve physical activity access and opportunities for our children and adolescents,” she added.

As a powerful voice and partnership, Elliott says that the U.S. Physical Activity Alliance is relatively new and combines three previous groups: The National Physical Activity Plan, National Physical Activity Society and National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity. “Overall, the group’s goal is to advocate policy and system changes to allow all Americans to enjoy physical activity and enable children to be physically active.”

Policy, Systems and Environment (PSE) changes provide opportunities for healthy options and health equity so that school and community leaders, policy makers and stakeholders, families and all community members can have access to healthier options, such as more physical activity. “The lessons learned from COVID and the related impact on physical activity and children’s health have better positioned stakeholders to adjust and advocate for improvements to promote physical activity in children and youth,” Elliott said.

Elliott also served as a writer for the Post-COVID Physical Activity Recommendations for Elementary Children, along with Heather E Erwin, PhD, University of Kentucky, and Emily M. Jones, PhD, Illinois State University. Additional writers for the main report include Jayne D. Greenberg, EdD, Rebecca A. Battista, PhD and Hadiya Green Guerrero, PT, DPT.

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