SHAPE America

SHAPE America

SHAPE America is an organization of physical education and activity, sport, dance, and school health professionals. Standing for Society of Health and Physical Educators, they coordinate resources, compile standards, promote research, award excellence, and host conferences and workshops to help practitioners improve their skills “to further the health and well-being of the American public.”1

Previous to December 2013 SHAPE America was known as the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), an organization that grew and expanded over the last century.

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.2 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.

At that time the five national associations comprising AAHPERD were American Association for Health Education, American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation, National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and National Dance Association. In 2013, these five associations and a research consortium unified under the new name of SHAPE America.

Among their achievements are: the establishment of national standards for K-12 physical education, the development of the Let’s Move in School public awareness campaign in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative, and the creation of the Shape of the Nation Report. They also partner with the American Heart Association for the Jump Rope for Heart and the Hoops for Heart programs.

Besides academic journals, online course, conferences, workshops, student scholarships, newsletters, and an online exchange opportunity, SHAPE America has a legislative action center to advocate for physical education and school health education policies. Each year over 20 awards are given to acknowledge excellence in all areas of physical activity, health education, and academic research. Additionally the annual Wade Trophy recognizes outstanding female athletes.

By supporting educators, researchers, and students, SHAPE America is dedicated to nationally promoting “Healthy People – Physically Educated and Physically Active!”3

  • 1. “AAHPERD Becomes SHAPE America.” SHAPE: Society of Health and Physical Education. < > 18 Sep. 2014.
  • 2. “About.” SHAPE: Society of Health and Physical Education. < > 18 Sep. 2014.
  • 3. Op.cit., “AAHPERD Becomes SHAPE America.”