The Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (ASAHPERD) honored UAB alumna and Associate Professor Sandra Sims, Ph.D., at the organization’s Fall Conference Awards Luncheon on Nov. 17 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – Wynfrey Hotel.

ASAHPERD presented Sims with the Service Award for her many years of volunteer work on behalf of the association.

“It’s a nice honor,” says Sims, a Birmingham native who teaches in the physical education concentration of UAB’s kinesiology program.

“I love serving. To me, service isn’t a chore. It’s something that’s in my heart, and I love to serve my profession and help physical education teachers.”

ASAHPERD represents professionals who promote healthy lifestyles through health, physical education, recreation, dance, sports programs and exercise science. It has more than 1,200 members across Alabama.

Sims joined ASAHPERD in 1980. She later enrolled in the UAB School of Education and earned her master’s and her Ed.S., degrees in physical education in 1986 and 1997 respectively.

“UAB gave me the opportunity to come and get my master’s and my Ed.S., degrees through graduate assistantships,” she says. “For my master’s degree, I was a graduate assistant. For my Ed.S., degree I was a teacher-in-residence, and during this time, I got to know a lot about UAB and the faculty here. It made my journey back here pretty easy.”

She joined ASAHPERD’s advocacy committee in 1992. In 1993 she was appointed as the committee’s director.

Just prior to her appointment, Sims became involved in her first advocacy effort. She learned of a bill in the Legislature to end the physical education requirement for high schools. Out of concern, Sims says she and other ASAHPERD members drove to the State House in Montgomery to convince lawmakers to vote against the measure.

Their efforts paid off. The Legislature did not pass the bill, and physical education remained a required course in schools, she says.

“I learned that [legislators] want to hear what a grassroots person thinks,” she says. “I also learned that policy-makers don’t always understand the ramifications of the bills that come up for a vote. During this one experience, I realized the power of speaking up. I realized that being an advocate was important, and it has become an important part of my life.”

Sandra Sims Receiving Award at ASAHPERD

Afterward, Sims worked as ASAHPERD’s president from 2006 to 2007. She also was a reviewer for the ASAHPERD Journal and held many other offices within the organization. In 2014, Sims stepped down as the leader of ASAHPERD’s advocacy committee to focus on teaching and research. She has said, however, that she will continue advocating for quality physical education in schools.

Besides Sims, ASAHPERD also awarded physical education teacher and UAB alumnus Steven Hill with the Honor Award, the highest prize given to a member for significant contributions to ASAHPERD. Hill, a 1993 UAB physical education graduate, has held several offices in ASAHPERD, including Recreation Council Chair, Elementary Physical Education Council Chair, and recreation delegate to SHAPE America. Hill teaches at Central Park Elementary School in Birmingham.

John Dorough, a 2012 UAB educational leadership alumnus and physical education teacher, won ASAHPERD’s Jump Rope for Heart (JRFH) Coordinator of the Year award. The JRFH is a fund-raising activity that supports the American Heart Association.  During the 2014-15 school year, Dorough’s school, Edgewood Elementary School in Homewood, set a new record by raising more than $18,000 for the Heart Association.

“We have alumni who are movers and shakers and who’ve done great things,” says Sims. “So it doesn’t surprise me when I see UAB students and alumni getting awards.”