Physical Activity and Life Skills (PALS) Group

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You can change the world!

You've heard the cliché. "There's no 'I' in team." And it's true, of course.

But the life lessons of the gym, the field, the court, the park or wherever you've played, competed in organized sports or participated in P.E. classes go far beyond simple teamwork. Some are obvious. Skills. Fitness. Communication. Others are not so visible. Leadership. Personal responsibility. Social justice.

It's those secondary benefits that we encourage you to explore, practice, share and champion through our unique and innovative opportunities for hands-on learning. Immersing yourself in our transformational programs will help you change the world by empowering others to do so.

Leaders of our PALS (Physical Activity and Life Skills) group - executive director Paul Wright; associate directors Jim Ressler, Jenn Jacobs, Steve HowellZach Wahl-Alexander, Shaine Henert, and Karisa Fuerniss - share your passion and are excited for you to join their mission.

Spending your Spring Break in Belize is not about hitting the beach. It's about teaching youth sport coaches how to get the most out of their athletes on the field – and in life. Our travelers in this Engage Global program have led workshops on sports medicine, fan engagement, coach burnout, designing effective warmups, the psychology of injury and more.

In the process, you'll learn about your ability to plan and deliver lessons – and how to improve your own game, no matter what that is.

Learn more about Alternative Spring BAE.

We believe in the value of Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) through sport. We've witnessed amazing results in DeKalb, in the work of our likeminded alumni throughout the NIU region and now in the Envest Sri Lanka.


Joining us in this Engage Global initiative allows you to observe and play a role in Sri Lanka's continued implementation of the TPSR model. Students who have visited Sri Lanka taught TPSR while broadening their cultural understanding, including a glimpse at the difference in facilities and infrastructure between U.S. and Sri Lankan sports programs.

Our Sri Lankan partners also have visited us in DeKalb for TPSR training.

Learn more about Envest Sri Lanka

Were you – or are you – a leader in your high school P.E. class? What makes a good leader? What life skills did you learn, or are you learning, through your P.E. leadership? How can those skills translate to other parts of your life?

Answering these questions, and bringing together leaders from different P.E. periods to learn from each other, is the goal of our P.E. Leadership Summit. We welcome high school students to campus for a day of hands-on exploration of concepts of leadership, team-building and even college life, with current Physical Education majors helping to deliver much of that content.

Learn more about the P.E. Leadership Summit.

Are you ready to rumble?

Our Girls Boxing Club at DeKalb's Clinton Rosette Middle School is open to young women in sixth- through eighth-grade who come after school to learn about getting in the ring. Our faculty and students cover proper stretching and other good warm-up exercises to basics of the sport, such as punching, bobbing, weaving and more.

Being girls-only, the club allows for questions about life, including positive body image and body empowerment for females. Goals are set at the start of each session; one girl is chosen at the end to lead the team huddle in recognition of having best exemplified the goal.

Learn more about the Girls Boxing Club.

The inside of at youth detention facility probably isn't the first place you'd think of as a place to lead physical activity and teach leadership skills at the same time, but our Project FLEX shows that it's worth the effort.

In just the first year, around 70 young men behind bars in St. Charles earned the privilege to participate in the extracurricular activities we ran inside the facility. Between 10 and 20 others put their names on the waiting list in hopes of their chance, and we hope to expand.

We're seeing great results as we (and they) track their fitness, from their reps of exercises to their daily step counts and diet. We're also seeing positive outcomes in their leadership, even bringing three young men to campus for a few hours of seeing the kind of future that is possible for them.

Learn more about Project FELIX.

Contact Us

Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education 
Anderson Hall 221
DeKalb, IL 60115
P: 815-753-1407 
F: 815-753-1413 
knpe@niu.edu

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