Why Advocate with ACSM?
At its core, advocacy is the process by which ordinary citizens influence public policy to better align with their needs and priorities. Many policies that relate to the ACSM mission are set by elected leaders, such as federal legislation (e.g. federal physical activity guidelines or funding for research), state laws (e.g. regulation of health professions or appropriations for school wellness programs) and local ordinances (e.g. requirements for bike lanes as part of new road construction).
Administrative policies can also have a great impact on activity levels. Federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can fund pilot or demonstration programs. State departments of labor can distribute materials encouraging workplace wellness. Local zoning boards can require sidewalks in new neighborhoods to encourage active lifestyles. Diocesan schools can ensure that physical education classes remain in the curriculum
In short, almost any entity that makes rules or policies can be part of encouraging a healthier, more active America. Advocacy, then, can take many forms. The opportunities are endless:
- Creating and responding to emailed or online Action Alerts, telling elected officials their constituents support specific provisions in legislation.
- Writing letters to the editors of newspapers to support local policy initiatives.
- Meeting with elected officials and their staff to discuss legislation.
- Using communication channels such as corporate newsletters or email signatures to send information relating to ACSM policy priorities.
- Speaking up at meetings of school boards, zoning boards, etc.
- Demonstrating widespread employee support for workplace wellness programs.
ACSM’s policy agenda reflects evidence-base proposals to improve public health, reduce health care costs and boost individual quality of life. The data are clear, and mountains of personal or anecdotal evidence demonstrate the health benefits of active lifestyles. Nonetheless, with so many issues competing for attention and so many priorities competing for funding, vigorous advocacy is essential to bring these issues to the forefront.
Deliberative bodies from Congress down to town councils and school boards face a flood of demands and recommendations from their constituents. If we become complacent while others communicate their own interests, we should not be surprised when our priorities are given short shrift. Those who are willing to take the time to visit their elected leaders put them on notice that these issues merit their attention.
Learn more about contacting elected officials and issues of importance to ACSM.