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Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance | Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

Name: Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance


Historical Note:

The history of almost any society is but an accounting for its people, places, and events (the who, what, when, and where of things) surrounding that society. Interpreting that accounting would, of necessity, involve an observation of trends and/or beliefs (the why or cause-and-effect of things) that may have emerged through the years. The story of the Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance can be described in such terms. From the time of its inception in 1909 to the present, this organization has been the story of professional people who cared, people who caused things to happen, and people who made a difference by what they did, what they thought, and what work they inspired.

Walter Mustaine can receive much of the credit for bringing about the Kentucky Physical Education Association. He was insightful enough to include in his efforts William G. Anderson, the man who had brought the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education (eventually the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) to fruition some twenty-four years earlier. The first meeting of the Kentucky Association was held at the Estill Springs Hotel in Irvine, Kentucky, during the regular meeting of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA). A petition signed by interested physical educators requested that the new group be a part of KEA and be known as the Department of Physical Education in the Kentucky Education Association. This petition was accepted, but the organization had a different name. From 1909 on, the Kentucky Physical Education Association was affiliated with KEA. After 1913, the KEA gathering was always held in the city of Louisville.

There are a number of consistencies or threads of continuity that existed within the physical education association through the many decades that followed. These threads of continuity can be viewed as trends that led to many formative decisions on the part of the members. After the first meeting in Irvine, for the next forty-five years, KPEA (eventually KAHPERD) met in conjunction with the annual meeting of KEA. It was not until 1954 that KAHPERD held an additional meeting at Cumberland Falls State Park.

For twelve years, this added meeting (known as the fall conference) met at state park resorts. In 1966 this conference was held in Lexington at the Phoenix Hotel. The association voted to have the fall conference become the major meeting with election of officers at that time. The spring meeting with KEA diminished in content and attendance thereafter. Since that 1966 decision, the fall meeting has been designated as a convention and has been hosted at hotels in such cities as Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro, and Paducah, or on college campuses such as Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, and Western Kentucky University. This move enabled KAHPERD to emerge as a strong, independent, and successful organization.

Even in the early years, the young physical education association had included other organizations in its meeting. In the early 1900s, the YWCA physical directors met with the Kentucky Physical Education Association. By 1957, quite a large number of related or affiliated associations attended KAHPERD meetings: the Kentucky Section of the American Camping Association; Carver School of Missions and Social Work; Council of Southern Mountains; Kent School of Social Work; Folk Lore Society of Kentucky; Kentucky Recreation Society; and various welfare and group work agencies, to name a few.

In addition to the many related groups that identified with the Kentucky Physical Education Association, there were numerous people with national professional importance who came to Kentucky through the years to speak to the association or hold workshops or clinics. Among these were J.B. Nash, Delbert Oberteuffer, Jesse Feiring Williams, Mabel Lee, D.K. Brace, Avery Brundage, Ruth Glassow, Alonzo Stagg, Harry Scott, Constance M.K. Applebee Catherine Allen, Celeste Ulrich, and Faye Biles, to name a few. Kentucky gained much from association with these well known leaders. The presence of these leaders through the decades was an inspiration to Kentucky educators.

In 1920, the young physical education society formally affiliated with its national counterpart, the American Physical Education Association (eventually AAHPERD). Here began a long and profitable relationship for Kentucky. Through the national organization, Kentucky was able to stay abreast of trends, changes, and events at the national level, taking advantage of the thinking of leaders in the profession of physical education (and later health, recreation, and dance). Several members of the Kentucky association were always in attendance at district and national conventions of the larger organization. These delegates invariably brought back to the state the latest work from the national. Through the years, the state organization has judiciously followed the patters of operations of the national organizations. In the decade of the 1930s, the Kentucky Physical Education Association added "Health" to its name. In the 1940s "Recreation" was added. And by the early 1980s "Dance" became a part of the official name. All of these expansions were reflections of national trends and in keeping with decisions of the national body. (Actually, the Kentucky leaders included health in the name before national leaders did so!)

Beginning in 1909 and continuing to the present, the association has seen the need to maintain close contact with the state legislature and to speak out to that body on behalf of the health and physical fitness of Kentucky's school children. Members of the association were keenly aware of changing programs of physical education through the years and consistently brought this information to association meetings. Among these changes was the movement away from formal exercises and calisthenics toward games, play, and sports in the 1920s. The arrangement of gymnasiums was another change noted by Kentuckians. With diminishing emphasis on German and Swedish gymnastics, gymnasium walls no longer had stall bars, booms, dumbbells, and heavy apparatus. Space was created for the popular tide of sport activities within physical education programs. In more modern times, changing emphases reflected concerns for elementary physical education, fitness, wellness, and healthy lifestyles. Standards for participation of girls and women were closely monitored by Kentucky teachers and administrators from 1923 on and reported to the association.

An active honor awards committee began an effective work in the early 1950s. The practice of honoring members of the association as well as non-members and agencies which have made significant contributions to health, physical education, and/or recreation has continued through the years. This practice has served well in maintaining unity and loyalty among members and support and consent among adjunct people and institutions.

The history of the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance has pointed to a number of milestones that have made a difference. For purposes of this presentation, seven milestones will be noted. Although another writer might well come up with additional milestones and even different and perhaps more important ones, the seven chosen are both encompassing and interrelated. They are a part of the thread of continuity that has run so true throughout the history of this organization. They are: (1) changing from a conference format to a convention gave philosophical as well as financial independence to the association. No longer did it depend on KEA for nurturing and the furnishing of a meeting place; (2) keeping up with the times through a strong bond with the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) has enabled KAHPERD officers to receive leadership training and valuable information; (3) hiring an executive secretary/treasurer to handle the financial affairs and business negotiations of the association; (4) establishing an honor awards system that recognizes outstanding leadership and says, "Thank you for a job well done"; (5) changing the association's publication from a newsletter format to a sophisticated journal and adding a newspaper that keeps the membership, as well as schools and colleges all over the state, informed of the association's business; (6) recognizing the enormous potential for leadership and support within the public schools by electing presidents of KAHPERD from that setting as well as the college and university setting (since 1975, there has been a tremendous increase in the service given to the association from the public school ranks); (7) participating in the Jump-Rope-for-Heart Project. This later endeavor has had far-reaching effects on the entire association. It has involved children and youth in physical activity (part of what the association is all about); it has involved teachers from all over the state who have, in many cases, turned this involvement into leadership in KAHPERD; it has been a financial windfall for both national and state associations; and finally, the project has furnished the American Heart Association with funds for research aimed at the health and physical welfare of the American people.

By Peggy Stanaland






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