“In the great work of education, our physical condition, if not the first step in point of importance, is the first in order of time. On the broad and firm foundation of health alone can the loftiest and most enduring structures of the intellect be reared.” ~Horace Mann
"We know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong, and that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies." ~John F. Kennedy
Preparing students for the 21st century cannot be accomplished without a strong and sustained emphasis on all students’ health and wellness. It no is longer acceptable to think of “gym class” and “hygiene lessons.” Today’s world has exploded with physical, mental, and social influences that affect not only learning in school, but also the lifelong health of the citizens that schools are preparing for graduation. Health and physical education prepare students to function optimally as students, global citizens, and workers who demonstrate personal responsibility for one’s health and fitness through an active, healthy lifestyle that fosters a lifelong commitment to wellness.
Health education and physical education are separate disciplines, each with a distinct body of knowledge and skills. However, the two disciplines are naturally interdisciplinary and clearly complement and reinforce each other to support wellness. Schools have a unique role and responsibility to address both health and physical education from preschool through twelfth grade to instill and reinforce knowledge and skills needed to be healthy and achieve academically.
Colorado's comprehensive health and physical education standards lay out a vision for these vitally important disciplines, and describe what all students should know and be able to do at each grade level through eighth grade and in high school. The authors of this document were preschool through twelfth-grade educators, higher education professors, business representatives, and community members. The group developed a set of competencies starting with "the end in mind." What concepts and skills would a "prepared graduate" in the 21st century posses when he or she left high school? The answers to this question framed the work that led to the development of four standards in comprehensive health and physical education for preschool through twelfth grade.