Tagged in: About, Move Live Learn Blog, Physical Literacy, Uncategorized

It's Broken, Let's Fix It

"..or nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~ The Lorax, by Dr. Suess

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.



  • Elizabeth Rhodes Caldwell

    I’m in! Now is the time folks. Jump up, jump in and #playitforward! The time is now!
    What a great article to provoke thought and action, Amanda. Let’s go!

    • Thanks, Betsy! I know you are always making things happen for kids. The world thanks you!

  • Danielle Vierling

    I was a little discouraged this week for a variety of reasons but your post came up and the passion has returned. We have to live it and demand more from those in decision making positions. Everyone deserves an opportunity to be physically literate!

    • Danielle, I am so sorry to hear you have been having a frustrating week! You’re right we need to demand more, and it’s time we work together to make such demands. I have your back!

  • Timothy Scandale

    Great post! I also have a fire burning and am inspired to help. There is no better time than the present to start working on this. Every day I reflect on physical literacy and all of the potential it has to help every child and adult. I have never met someone who does not like to move- just people who think they don’t like to move.

    TPSR is a great way to get students and a variety of stakeholders involved in this important cause. I feel that there is so much much potential in Level 5, and National Standards 4 and 5. Just like Dr. Suess, Bob Dylan has been very influential to me.

    ” Come Senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.”

    B. Dylan 1963

    • Thanks, Tim! I am just reading this now and I LOVE the quote you chose. It’s so fitting. I hope all is well with you and appreciate all you do to ensure change happens.

  • Kate McCord

    Thanks for constantly inspiring me to push my teaching, my impact on the community and pushing myself in my own fitness goals.

    • Awe, Kate! Thank you! Your comment made me realize I need to step away from the computer this a.m and get out for a run before I do anything else!

  • Sarah Gietschier-Hartman

    I live in a rural area just outside St. Louis, Missouri. The town is very small and lacks the diverse population I’m craving to be around. My husband and I have plans to move next year, and often I feel like putting our house on the market can’t come soon enough. Our house is located just off Route 66 (the busiest street in town) across the street from a firehouse, middle school, track, and elementary school. We have two small children and two dogs, who we enjoy taking on walks. My husband just finished training for his first half marathon by running at 4am in the dark with a friend. He completed his race this past weekend and decided to wake up again this morning to keep training for another race next month. I started training for a 5K (something that is very challenging for me) and run at 7:30pm after our kids go to bed. Our town installed beautiful sidewalks last year, but many of the sidewalks are not accessible by residents. In order for me to get to them, I have to cross Route 66 and dodge cars. There is no cross-walk for the pedestrians or the students who walk to school each day. Many of the sidewalks in town are not lit at night, so I take my dogs with me on my runs to feel safe.
    It’s important that we all have a place where we can be physically active and improve our physical literacy. It’s equally important for those places to be safe!

  • andy vasily

    What I love about this post is that it’s not about PE itself but more the need to create long term sustainable change in the way we educate young people. It’s about healthy living and for our subject area, a complete paradigm shift is needed. Having a committed group of educators with a specific vision is pivotal in making this difference. Thanks for this post Amanda.

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  • Mel Hamada

    I think if we can instill things in our own families and then watch that idea spread to their friends and your community and model this you will see change – there are so many ways that we need to do this, it is a reminder to me as a parent that my own children need to play too, not just my students and me! Good reflection and call to Action.

  • Bryan Jillson

    I have been told that the program that I run at my school is great. Then I read posts like this and watch video’s about Physical Literacy and I feel so far from great. Thank you for the push to be better then yesterday.