Okay folks, watch this, it’s super short, I promise:
Holy wow, right?
Johanna Quaas was 86 in this competition. She’s 87 now and she’s still competing. Quaas started gymnastics young and kept at the sport throughout her life. She even married a gymnast. She’s a poster grandma for how being active as a child can help to keep you active for life. Like, ALL your life.
Now, while I don’t actually aspire to be a competitive gymnast in my twilight years, watching Quaas own those parallel bars was still inspirational for me. It shattered my deeply held beliefs about what people — what older women in particular — can do. Old women are frail? They have to move carefully to prevent falls? They’re not strong? Yeah, all that stuff went out the window as I watched her move.
And all this from a 1-minute video!
Whether we like it or not, we’re influenced by role models. We need them. We need to see people thumbing their noses at what, to us, seems impossible. Because that’s what makes it possible for us to try or to keep trying when the going gets tough — at whatever it is we’re doing, whether it’s school or sport or art.
Did you know that 75% of kids say they look to family members, friends, teachers, and coaches to be their role models? Real people, in other words, and not celebrities on a screen?
Which brings me back, not to Johanna Quaas, but to you. The choices you make about how to live a healthy, active life will trickle down to your kids. They’ll follow your lead. More than anyone else in their lives, kids look to you to show them the way.
And, here’s the most awesome part: you don’t need to be an 86-year old competitive gymnast to win their admiration or respect. You’ve already got it just by being their Mom or their Dad. All you need to do is decide what kind of role model you want to be.
When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become — whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm — her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.’
— Sonia Sotomayor
Image of Johanna Quaas © dpa