American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) is a national organization of over 20,000 professionals that provides support and assistance to professionals involved in physical education, recreation, fitness, sports and coaching, health education, and dance. AAHPERD is an alliance of five national associations, six district associations, and a research consortium.1 While each association functions as a separate entity and promotes its own purposes, as members of this alliance they each work to develop professional guidelines and standards, promote research, improve public understanding and government relations, and facilitate communication and activities with other organizations.

The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance had its beginnings when a physical training instructor in Brooklyn, New York, on November 27, 1885, invited a group of people working in the gymnastic field to meet together to discuss their profession. This first meeting of 60 people discussed methods of teaching, a system of measurements, and the manufacture of apparatus. They organized as the Association for the Advancement of Physical Education (AAPE) and held their first convention the following year, when the organization was renamed the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education. Working together the first years to encourage the inclusion of physical education in the schools, the organization’s name was changed once again to the American Physical Education Association (APEA) in 1903. Merging with the National Education Association (NEA) in 1937, it was renamed the American Association for Health and Physical Education with the term “Recreation” added the following year. In 1974, the “D” was added for dancing in the school curriculum even though it had been a part of physical education since 1932. In 1975, AAHPERD separated from NEA and its headquarters are now in Reston, Virginia.

The five national associations of AAHPERD are as follows:2

  • American Association for Health Education (AAHE) specializes in continuing education and professional development for health educators in schools, health agencies, medical care settings, business, and industry.
  • American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR) bring together professional educators with community and agency-based programs to assist in providing physical activity, recreation, and fitness programs in one’s lifetime.
  • National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) is an advocate for equity for girls and women in sports. They are a source for information and programming for administrators and teachers who work with girls and women.
  • National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) offers informational conferences, professional development opportunities, books, and other resources to help educators become better leaders in the classroom, school, and community.
  • National Dance Association (NDA) advocates for quality dance programs in the arts and physical education. They develop and market dance programs and provide networking opportunities to advance career in dance education.

The AAHPERD associations actively develop and promote standards for physical and health education and for dance. The NASPE publishes standards for K-12 physical education for coaches and beginning physical education teachers. The American Association for Health Education publishes standards for the healthy development of children and youth. The NDA developed dance standards for grades K-12 as part of a project developed by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, along with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.3

The six district associations of AAHPERD promote leadership and provide learning opportunities at the local level. The districts are the Eastern, Central, Midwest, Southern, Southwest, and Northwest. All hold annual conventions with the exception of the Midwest district.4

The vision of AAHPERD is to have a society in which all individuals enjoy an optimal quality of life through appreciation and participation in an active and creative, health-promoting lifestyle.5

AAHPERD changed its name to SHAPE America in December 2013.

  • 1. “Who We Are.” American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. < http://www.aahperd.org/about/ > 28 Feb. 2011.
  • 2. “National Associations.” American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. < http://www.aahperd.org/about/nationalassociations.cfm > 28 Feb. 2011.
  • 3. “National Standards.” American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. < http://www.aahperd.org/whatwedo/nationalStandards.cfm > 28 Feb. 2011.
  • 4. “District Associations”. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. < http://www.aahperd.org/about/districts > 28 Feb. 2011.
  • 5. “Vision.” American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. < http://www.aahperd.org/about/mission.cfm > 28 Feb. 2011.