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U faculty member recognized for contributions to kids’ health

Wesley Wilson wins award and research fellowship from physical education society

We all remember physical ed in school. And whether it was your favorite class or least favorite class, the benefits of physical activity are widely recognized. Physical education programs in schools can help kids stay healthy, set active habits at an early age and enjoy lots of support from both parents and healthcare professionals. An excellent physical ed program results from hard work, like that of the University of Utah’s College of Education faculty member Wesley Wilson, who is deeply involved in the researching, designing, implementing and advocating of physical education programs in schools.

Wesley Wilson

“Physical education is more complicated than people think,” says Wilson. “To be effective, physical education must develop motor skills and physical activity knowledge and behaviors. There is even a set of standards that schools have to meet, so it is based on science; it isn’t as if teachers can hand the kids a ball and a jump rope and expect improved health.” Outcomes of well-designed and implemented programs can include increased academic performance and an active lifestyle clear into adolescence and even adulthood. Wilson’s work in physical education was recently recognized by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) when he was inducted as a SHAPE America Research Fellow. He was one of the youngest people to have received this honor, which recognizes those that have “made significant and sustained contributions to scholarship (research, creative, or scholarly activity) and related services” in physical education. Being a SHAPE Fellow will further Wilson’s work in the scholarly aspect of physical education—things like researching the socialization of teachers and the experiences of kids with disabilities in physical education.

SHAPE also awarded Wilson the Dr. Doris R. Corbett Johnson Leaders for our Future Award. This award recognizes “younger members who have demonstrated outstanding potential in scholarship, teaching, and/or professional leadership” in physical education.

“We are so proud of Dr. Wesley Wilson,” said Dean Nancy Butler Songer. “Healthy kids are better learners and happier. Quality research studies indicate that good physical ed programs and academic development go hand-in-hand. Our teacher training and research recognize learning through a holistic approach to healthy minds and bodies, as seen in the work of our faculty like Dr. Wilson.”

To learn more about the U’s College of Education work, click here.