CSU, Chico News

Professors' Physical Education Film Slated to Screen May 4

Date: 04-30-2015

Ernesto Rivera
Public Affairs

“No Excuses!” Documents Effects of Quality Physical Education Programming

California State University, Chico professors Cathrine Himberg and John Roussell will offer a free screening of their physical education documentary, “No Excuses!” on Monday, May 4, at 7 p.m. in Holt 170.

The film, which advocates for quality physical education in schools, has been in the making since fall 2011. That semester, married professors Himberg, Department of Kinesiology, and Roussell, Department of Communication Design, traveled on sabbatical to a private school in Harlem, New York, to implement a new physical education program and document the results.

The Storefront Academy (formerly the Children's Store Front School), which serves students in preschool through eighth grade, faced a number of challenges related to physical education curriculum, according to Himberg. Some of the challenges were little access to after-school programs; athletics and physical education programs that lacked an emphasis on teaching; and a lack of education about healthy lifestyles.

“The idea for making the film came out of a desire to show that we can make a change in one setting with really difficult challenges in the area of physical education,” Himberg said. “I wanted to have evidence that you can do the right thing under the most dire of circumstances.”

The film documents how, over three years, the academy moved away from its former approach to physical education toward one that emphasizes learning, education and quality programming.

"The major changes we saw were quality physical education, where students started learning skills, knowledge and virtues saying they need to be active for the rest of their lives,” Himberg said. “Beyond physical education, they were getting many more opportunities for activity throughout the day; we made recess a safer environment and more productive and more conducive to movement."

To make the film, Himberg and Roussell visited schools in South Carolina, California, West Virginia and Washington facing multiple challenges, but which have still been able to implement successful physical education programs.

“Not only do the students do better in the classrooms when they have quality physical education programs, [their schools] saw better results with grades and fewer discipline problems,” Himberg said.

While Himberg focused on the physical education programming at the school, Roussell’s role was creating the film itself; he served as director, producer, editor, videographer and interviewer. His goal, he said, was not only to show the transformation of the school, but to highlight Himberg’s advocacy, drive and care in bringing about significant change.

"This is something that Cathrine has gotten national and international recognition for,” Roussell said. “From my standpoint, I was trying to share the experience of what it is like for her to actually go through these steps."

To help with the process, Roussell and Himberg recruited 16 students to take with them on short trips to Harlem: Roussell enlisted communication design students to help with production, including filming and editing, and Himberg involved her kinesiology students in teaching physical education lessons at the school.

The duo’s advocacy in the area of physical education has led to conversations with Let's Move Active Schools, First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to promote healthy lifestyles for children, which is considering using the documentary to promote its programs.

For more information on “No Excuses!” and the programs implemented in the documentary, please visit Himberg’s and Roussell’s website, www.supportrealteachers.org.


Caption: Kinesiology professor Cathrine Himberg demonstrates a plank pose to students at The Storefront Academy in Harlem.