On November 15, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA), of which NIRSA is a Board member, hosted a Congressional briefing for a standing-room-only crowd. The crowd consisted of representatives of nearly 50 Senate offices from more than 30 states, as well as a wide variety of proponents of physical activity.
The briefing was to discuss the recently updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and why exercise matters in public policy.
“Increasing the amount of time that Americans move each day can help prevent chronic diseases and control the cost of health care,” said Ayanna McKnight, Coalition Manager of NCPPA. “But it’s more than that. Physical activity can help address many of the most pressing issues that our nation faces today. From creating a healthier workforce and strong economy, to ensuring that we have strong, eligible recruits for our military, to building good mental health and aiding in addiction prevention and treatment, exercise has a pivotal role to play.”
The Capitol Hill briefing featured experts and advocates of physical activity, including:
- Katrina Piercy, PhD, RD, ACSM-CEP, LCDR, U.S. Public Health Service
- Kenneth E. Powell, MD, MPH, Physical Activity Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee Co‐Chair
- Pat LaFontaine, Vice President of Hockey Development, National Hockey League, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame
- Tom Richards, Director of Community Engagement, American Council on Exercise
- Amy Callender, Director of Government Affairs, National Athletic Trainers’ Association
- Special guest, 11-year-old Sadie Thomas, who shared her story on inclusive physical activity
Bill Crockett, Past NIRSA President and current member of NIRSA’s Government Affairs Committee, represented NIRSA at the event. “There was great energy at the briefing,” he said. He also commended the significant attendance number, noting it was a very cold and snowy day in DC so the turn out “really spoke to the importance of the topic being discussed.”
After the Congressional briefing, NCPPA organized a mini ‘Hill Day’ where attendees had appointments with various Senators’ offices. The focus of their time with these Senators’ staff was to reemphasize the importance of physical activity, advocate for the passing of the PHIT Act in the Senate, and promote codifying the Every Kid Outdoors Act.
On behalf of NIRSA, Bill met with staff for Senator Fischer (R-NE), Senator Gardner (R-CO), and Senator Hirono (D-HI). The PHIT Act in particular, with its strong bipartisan support, was an opportunity to help reduce some of the barriers for people to engage in healthy activities that will, hopefully, lead to sustainable behavior changes.
“It was great to be able to talk to the staff and have a dialogue about their concerns. I was able to tell them this is a place where the Senate could lead,” Bill said. He encouraged them that while, of course, one bill or initiative won’t suddenly change the wellbeing of Americans, having leaders lean in and support this space could start the multiple policy changes that are needed to move the needle in this area.
Bill also shared that he made sure to wear his Humans of NIRSA pin to all of these meetings. “I felt really proud to be there to represent the Association because it made me feel we have come a long way and we are a real player in this space, with a seat at the table. I was proud to represent the Humans of NIRSA.”
- For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships Erin O’Sullivan.