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Physical activity professionals hold first regional confab

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Dr. Milabel E. Ho, Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) Vice President for Research, Extension and Development lauded Dr. Elmer Labad, Dean, WMSU College of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (CPERS), and Dr. Danilo Corteza, CPERS faculty and staff of the WMSU Center for Continuing Education, for paving the way of the conduct of the first Mindanao Regional Consultative Meeting of Physical Activity Professionals on February 12 at the WMSU College of Home Economics function room, this city.
Dr. Ho, who gave the opening message for the event, underscored the vital role of physical activity professionals as harbingers of wellness, not only in the region, but nationwide. She challenged them to go beyond the academic realm and pursue a vision of touching people’s lives with dynamic enjoyable activities that would redound to the latter’s well-being and happiness. She likewise proposed for a strong network of PA professionals to pool resources for greater impact.
The gathering was spearheaded by the WMSU College of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (CPERS) and the Philippine Council of Human Movement Professionals (PhilCHumPS) which is based at the University of the Philippines – Diliman.
It was attended by at least 32 representatives from the following schools and/or offices: Brent Hospital; Pilar College; STI College; Basilan National High School; WMSU College of Agriculture, CPERS, CSM, and External Studies Units in Mabuhay and Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay; Universidad de Zamboanga; Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College; Southern Support Command Elementary School; and the City Government Sports Division.
The physical activity (PA) professionals gathered in order to identify current issues and problems related to physical activity promotion; determine the strategies and responses to these issues and problems; and plan a viable linkage among PA professionals nationwide.
In an interview, Dr. Corteza explained that PA professionals do not only refer to Physical Education teachers but all other professionals who are in the human movement and wellness business which include people in the medical profession, sports professionals, and physical therapists, among others.
Main resource person for the gathering was Prof. Gilda L. Uy, Associate Professor of Leisure Studies and Physical Activity in Healthy Lifestyle Promotion (Active Ageing and Physical Education) and Director, Graduate Studies Program, College of Human Kinetics, UP-Diliman. 
An institution in her own right, Prof. Uy finished her Master of Education major in Comparative Physical Education/Leisure Studies at the Yokohama National University in Japan.  She also finished a course in Post-Disaster Intervention Through Sports in Rheinsberg, Germany; and Exercise Gerontology at the Nagoya University in Japan.
She is founder of PhilCHumPS, a body of physical activity professionals which aims to facilitate the collaboration and networking of PA groups and organizations nationwide, to enhance professional advancement of practitioners and to advance common goals.
In the Philippines, Dr. Uy was behind the Department of Health’s Hataw Program many years back. She had also worked with other government agencies and instrumentalities, like the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and the Philippine Sports Commission, among others, as consultant in their sports and the human movement projects.
The workshop facilitated by Prof. Uy during the consultative meeting revealed some major concerns that beset PA professionals in the region, and even nationwide, relative to the profession’s vision and mission of promoting total wellness among our people. These are: meager resources, adverse effects of technology, and lack of professional advancement opportunities.
The participants decried the fact that in most schools, procurement of quality physical activity equipment is least priority, if at all. They opine that this is due to the existing paradigm of school systems that PA subjects are ‘second class’ compared to what are construed as ‘academic subjects’ like the sciences, language subjects and mathematics, to name a few. The situation limits the learning and the benefits that students get from the course. What school administrators don’t realize, the PA professionals said, is the fact that PA is a significant aspect in building the total wellness of students. For one thing, unhealthy students do not perform well in class, they stressed.
The participants also pointed to technology as one of the reasons why people today hardly go into physical activity. The leisure provided by video games and the internet encourage people to live a largely sedentary life, resulting in lifestyle diseases.
The participants likewise decried the lack of training and professional advancement  opportunities for PA practitioners and teachers, first, because such trainings are also considered of least priority in most schools; and second, because there are only a few who organize such trainings. Corollary to this is the fact that there is no school in the country that offers a doctoral degree in Physical Education.
The participants were one in their conviction that creation of a viable network of PA professionals nationwide would pool needed resources (ideas, skills, knowledge, etc.) to effectively address the challenges confronting the profession and the practitioners. This network, according to the participants, should also include the following vital sectors: academe, sports buffs, local government units, NGOs, sponsors and benefactors, recreation bodies and instrumentalities, among others.
If, indeed, a network of PA professionals will be established in the country, Prof. Uy committed to help connect the network with PA professionals and groups in Japan, Germany and other countries in terms of trainings, scholarships, and other opportunities for growth and advancement.
The participants of the consultative meeting expressed their support to the plan of holding the first national conference of PA professionals in Zamboanga City sometime on April 30 to May 4, this year. Main topics of the event will be Dance Perspectives, and New Sports for All. Four international speakers have committed to give conferences during the occasion, Prof. Uy revealed.
More regional consultative meetings will be held in strategic areas in Luzon and the Visayas, in preparation for the national conference. The national conference, will likewise be a gathering to prepare for the bigger international conference of PA professionals which will be held in Baguio City, later this year.
Dr. Danilo Corteza in giving the event’s overview, reminded the participants of their great responsibility of educating the public on the necessity of lifelong engagement in physical activity for a longer, more fulfilling life.

By Evelyn Luceño

 




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