Tagged in: Motivation and Personal Fitness Journey, Move Live Learn Blog, Physical and Health Education, Physical Literacy, Public Health, Uncategorized, Wellness

You Live, You Learn

Exercising your physical literacy in all stages of life

I was asked by my friends at Physical & Health Education (PHE) Canada, @PHECanada, to share a few thoughts on my own physical literacy journey as they prepare for the upcoming national conference, A Physical Literacy Uprising. The conference is being hosted in collaboration with Alberta’s provincial association, Health & Physical Education Council (HPEC). As a former Board of Director for PHE Canada, I am proud to help spread the word about the upcoming conference and hope everyone has an amazing experience in Banff!

Physical literacy is a journey throughout the lifespan, it’s not a destination. I’m not going to lie, it can be a humbling journey. It can sometimes be even scary. But, as I approach age 39, I conclude that the lessons I learned throughout my physically literacy journey thus far, are far greater than any lessons I received in the classroom (and I have been in a lot of classrooms!).

For example, there was the time...

I was hit in the face with a softball playing with my siblings, neighbors and cousins in my parents’ front yard. From this, I learned compassion as my older brother (also a physical educator) carried me into our home while comforting me. I also learned the importance of developing competence in fundamental movement skills such as dodging a poorly pitched softball!

In Grade 7 I was cut from my junior high soccer team. From this, I learned that one setback doesn’t define you. I went on to play college soccer.

As a chaperone to 14 middle schoolers in Paris I got lost on an early morning run. I had to find my way back to the hostel before my students woke. From this, I learned how to be resourceful and that I work well under pressure. I also understood the benefits of having some interval training under one's belt.

I ran my first marathon and finished far behind my Dad who ran 2 miles out to find me after finishing his because he wanted to tell me how proud he was of me as I hobbled my way to the finish line. From this, I learned how to be a parent who can inspire my children to set active goals and to enjoy the post-race finish line thrill.

I was whacked in the head while learning how to surf on my honeymoon, and it really scared me. I shook it off, got back up and was able to enjoy the rest of day on and off the water. From this, I learned a motto I went on to teach my students and children, “a day can have bad moments and still be a very good day.”

I was dating my husband and fell so hard while learning how to snowboard that I almost broke my tailbone. I was a grad student and shifted from skiing because I found an inexpensive used snowboard and couldn’t afford skies. From this, I learned that no matter how silly I might look, my husband loved me because I was brave enough not to quit when things got tough.

I coached Special Olympics soccer and served as an adapted physical education assistant when completing my doctoral work at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. I learned the importance of providing physical activity opportunities for all individuals within a community and schools, and to help bring access to those who have the least amount of options.

I completed the Boston marathon last year, one year after the bombings, with tears running down my face because it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. From this, I learned first hand how love can undoubtedly overcome hate.

I finally did a handstand in the middle of my living room without support - just a few weeks ago. From this, I learned how daily practice toward a goal can make you feel empowered to take on the world. I learned the importance of not putting off things that you always wanted to learn how to do.

I trained for an IRONMAN®...oh yeah, I am doing that now. On this particular journey, I am reminded (daily!) that no matter how impossible some things may seem, if you approach goals in small steps it’s amazing how far you can travel.

You see, being physically literate is not about what place you finish, it’s that you sign up to give it a whirl and you try and help others do the same. Physical literacy is about decreasing the amount of time on earth that you are going to be dependent on others. It’s about realizing that people in many parts of the world would love to have the right to workout when they want and how they want - and not taking that for granted.

Through a commitment to physical literacy, I have learned how to set goals that enaMLL Blog PL Quoteble me to be the best version of myself, to be humbled daily, and to be involved in my community. Along the way, I have developed the most amazing friendships and created special memories with loved ones. I have learned how to appreciate nature, be grateful for all the opportunities I am afforded, how to support others, and how to shake off a bad day or experience and persevere. 

Sounds like some core curriculum content to me.

I can’t imagine a world where I wasn’t supporting others’ physical literacy journey. It’s my calling. I will never tire of helping to leave this earth a little happier and healthier than I found it. I can’t wait to see where my journey takes me next!

What lessons have you learned thus far on your physical literacy journey?  Please share below so that I, and other readers, can be inspired!

  • Patty Kestell

    Amanda, thank you for awakening some early movement memories for me. Your first comment brought a smile to my face. Not because you were hit with a softball, but because I gave my older sister a black eye as she looked away when I pitched a ball to her. Oops! She still reminds me of that day! ;) I remember my other sister teaching me how to do a cartwheel, even though she was still learning it herself. I remember learning to swim, playing volleyball against the garage roof since I didn’t have a net, hitting tennis balls against the jr high wall, running x-country in middle school, and playing outdoors with neighbor kids and hating coming inside at night. I remember the fear of tearing my ACL on a school ski trip in my first year of teaching, and wondering how it would feel/function after rehab. Later in my career, I also remember the elation of finishing a triathlon after healing from shoulder surgery. More than anything, the best memory that sticks with me is one my parents shared with me…a love of the outdoors and hiking wherever we went. Annual trips to the Tetons are a cherished memory, which fueled a lifelong love of hiking for me. Sorry this is so long…it just shows how powerful our early memories of movement are for us! Thanks so much for sharing your movement journey and giving me a chance to share part of mine! :)

  • Lisa Frangipane

    My physical literacy has shaped me both personally and professionally. I cannot imagine a day without movement whether for myself or for the students I teach. From playing tag football with the boys on the corner to riding my bicycle in the neighborhood, to driving my parents crazy learning how to juggle with tennis balls in the house, to picking up my first tennis racquet at a young age (which led to the collegiate level) has given me such a strong connection to the value of movement. As I age, I have found solace in a yoga practice, challenges in running endurance races, connectivity to nature on a mountain/road bike and pushing my limits in learning how to skateboard, indo board and stand up paddle boarding. I mean, really, as I write this – how fantastic is movement and the experiences one can have with a variety of activities and opportunities! Thank you for sharing your journey! And, Patty, thank you for sharing your journey as well!