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 enable 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!