One of my favorite parts about what I do is that I work across sectors. Last Friday I eagerly visited Stanford's campus to participate in a think tank meeting hosted by Jeff Moreno, founder of Move2Thrive. While there, I listened carefully to a MIT architect, leaders of Stanford's athletic therapy department, Stanford neuroscientists, and physical therapists. I loved it because I typically present when I travel. When I present, I can't listen and when I am not listening, I don't learn.
I can see why I was invited in that Jeff and I have some important commonalities. Move Live Learn was born out my
desire need to bring different sectors to the same table, to solve problems en route to offsetting current sedentary norms and social injustices related to health. Move2Thrive was found on the premise that a radical collaboration is needed to restructure the education system in the United States to support physical literacy development in all children and youth. No wonder ours was a friendship at first Tweet.
My conclusion from the Move2Thrive Summit doesn't differ from previous ones. The summit only put gasoline on the fire which has steadily been burning inside my body for (gulp) almost two decades.
Conclusion: It's insane that society continues to ignore the science around physical activity.
When I was a physical education teacher educator at St. Francis Xavier University, a pre-service teacher gave me The Lorax, by Dr. Suess. At the time, I thought simply that it was an incredibly kind gesture from a 21-year-old upon his graduation. Since receiving it, the book has inspired me repeatedly and I have to wonder if he knew what a special role this book would eventually play in my life. For example, when my first child was born, I read it to her. It inspired me to take risks in attempt to leave this world a little bit happier and healthier than I found it. In many ways, it inspired me to start this company. My oldest is now 5 and a half and the book inspired her to deliver milkweed seeds to our neighborhood last spring, among many other small gestures of kindness she has shared with the world. Yep. I guess you could say this book is a keeper. The message is one that we can learn from and one that we should use to guide our choices each day.
The book hasn't been the only thing to fuel a passion burning inside to create newer healthier norms for citizens of North America. I grew quite intimate with Don Hellison's model of teaching personal and social responsibility (TPSR) when I was attaining my doctorate degree at UVA. For those of you who do not live in the physical education world, the five-level TPSR model allows teachers to guide in a way that affords youth life skills centered around personal and socially responsibility. In other words, when curriculum and lessons are carefully crafted, TPSR allows our students to take what they have learned and sprinkle it out into the world to make a positive impact, not unlike planting milkweed to support a healthy bee population.
While at Stanford last week, images ofHellison's model and the Lorax were popping in my head over and over again. I thought I was going to burst. So, I did what I always do when I reach this level of excitement ...
...I went for a run.
On the run, all I could think about were the so many missed opportunities for us (each of us) to do something to create new, healthier normals. Life gets busy. Work gets busy. Family gets busy. There is no shortage of excuses for why we don't show that we care a whole lot. Yet, if we all choose to show that we care even a little, enough to transfer some of our skills to our communities, a healthier normal can be created.
In the process, we might just find ourselves fighting over the parking space furthest away, having no problem returning that grocery cart 50 feet away to the place where it belongs, and, if we are feeling really radical, even carrying our luggage up one flight stairs.
My personal career goal that I don't typically share: Demonstrate proficiency in Level 5 of Hellison's model related to creating healthier norms for North American society.
Will you join me, please? Will you join Jeff? Will you join others like him?
Think of the world that we could help create for our children and their children if each of us took social responsibility to afford more opportunity for people to live healthy lives.
So, team #PhysEd, team #Parents, team #Coaches, team #education leaders, and all other humans in North America....are you in?
What is one thing you can do in your community to help create new, healthier normals? Is it a bike rack at the local elementary school? Or, perhaps you'll lead the way in a crosswalk installation on a busy street to increase opportunity for active modes of transport? Maybe you will sit on a committee to reopen a local neighborhood pool that has been closed? Or maybe you plan on developing a new non-sport specific youth activity offering for kids at affordable rates?
The old saying that if it ain't broke, don't fix it is a good one. It's time we realize that our systems, infrastructure, and policies are broken. In turn, we are watching far too many individuals exist in a fog rather than reach for the stars. In a rush for convenience, we have quickly found ourselves in a world that regards movement as a luxury rather than a necessity. We are missing out on so much untapped potential in this country and beyond because not enough people in positions of power seem to care a whole awful lot about physical activity and all its direct and indirect benefits. I'm tired of it, yet find myself inspired to work harder than ever across sectors to disseminate the best research and best practice examples to better serve our most precious asset - our youth.