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The Shoes Make a Difference

Dennis M. Docheff, Carly Wright & Rachael Chase

Strategies Cover March 2019

On a beautiful, brisk spring morning in Washington, D.C., a large group of people poses for a picture in front of the imposing U.S. Capitol building. At first glance, an outsider might see the well-dressed crowd of people as a typical oversized group of sightseers at the Nation’s Capital. However, with a second glance, the viewer notices something different—they are all wearing colorful sneakers! SPEAK Out! Day is underway, and in just a few moments, the more than 200 members of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators will descend on Capitol Hill to advocate for quality health and physical education. The purpose of this article is to describe SPEAK Out! Day and address a few of its practices and outcomes, as well as the enjoyment participants experience by volunteering for this event.

SPEAK Out! Day is an annual event in which SHAPE America members converge in Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives and senators to discuss issues related to quality health and physical education (SHAPE America, n.d.). Members attend meetings with Congress representatives based on a schedule developed by the SHAPE America staff. It is a volunteer event unlike any other for SHAPE America. Members give of their time, energy and personal finances to put their best foot forward for the well-being of all children nationwide.

Over the years, member participation in SPEAK Out! Day has grown. According to figures provided by SHAPE America, in 2007 approximately 60 attendees from 23 states participated in SPEAK Out! Day. In 2018, SPEAK Out! Day had grown to include over 215 participants, with 45 states represented. SPEAK Out! Day is in its 12th year in 2019; hopefully, it will continue to grow each year. The goal is to have each state represented in order to meet and influence as many members of Congress as possible during the event.

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