Thirty minutes a day. About half as long as the average American spends watching commercials or browsing Facebook. It’s also the amount of time that recently rejected legislation (L.D. 378) would have set aside for physical activity by schoolchildren in kindergarten through Grade 5.

Fact-laden testimonies from those in the know showered support on the bill. Studies about how much better children perform and behave when they have time to be active were touted. Data were put forward by some of our most esteemed acronyms (AAP, ACS, AHA, CDC, MASN, MEA, MPHA, WHO). In the end, though, “ought not to pass” was the vote of the majority of legislators on the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

Over the course of the last month, I’ve spent the better part of each day talking with some of Maine’s most amazing educators, physicians and lawmakers about how something so reasonable can be so overwhelmingly opposed. What I got was an education on how bills get passed, why sound principle doesn’t always make sound law, and the strength and role of local community leadership.

Maybe L.D. 378 wasn’t the right piece of legislation. Maybe it came at the wrong time. Maybe these changes are better made from the ground up. Regardless, I feel we need more.

We need a movement. There’s no doubt that our kids need to be more physically active, and schools are one of the best places to do that. We need to start at the source and advocate locally. Parents need go to PTA meetings and have conversations with administrators. Pediatricians should review the local wellness policies.

It may be more difficult to enact a statewide change in lifestyle than a law. However, like so much else, it’s the things that we come by honestly that seem to stand the test of time.

Micah Lamb

Cape Elizabeth