When I’m asked, “What is physical literacy?” I am sometimes challenged to sum up this topic in a short conversation. Lately however, I’ve been recalling a story about my 91-year-old grandfather, my Opa.
I was recently visiting my grandparent’s house and Opa was sitting in his rocker. He likes this place because of the natural light from the sliding-door close by, he can see the television clearly, but also keep a close eye on the birds that come to visit the patio feeder. Opa decided to get up from his rocker, maybe for a cup of tea or a snack, and as he stood up he tripped and stumbled over a piece of loose carpet at his feet.
Rather than falling, injuring himself or worse, he did a small little jump, caught his footing by jumping and landing on two feet and continued on his way.
Guest post by Chris Fenlon-MacDonald
Chris is the education co-ordinator for the Healthy Schools initiative of Ever Active Schools. This story originally appeared in Trail to Banff, a blog series leading to PHE Canada and HPEC’s 2015 National Conference, A Physical Literacy Uprising!, which starts tomorrow in Banff.
He didn’t even think twice about what just happened, didn’t even really notice that he had done anything remarkable for his age. It was just something that was natural to him, something he had been doing all his life.
My grandfather continues to live an active life. He grew up active, immigrated to Canada with his young family to take on custodial work for the local school board, and also did some odd jobs for the local church. And he continues to understand the importance of activity in his later years.
You see, my childhood is filled with memories of him playing hockey with me and my cousins on the street in front of their house. Rather than using a hockey stick however, he’d come out to the street with a push broom because there wasn’t enough sticks. We’d play soccer some evenings in the back yard, him in bare feet and us in shoes, but he’d easily teach us a humbling lesson on the importance of speed. These days he doesn’t drive, but he rides a recumbent bike in his spare room and walks when the weather allows.
Had he not lived an active life, participated in various sports and activities, or played with his children, the little jump he took to regain his footing may have ended with a much different outcome.
His physical literacy journey can been seen in his ‘everyday’.
What’s important here is that this wasn’t only his physical literacy journey, it was a story about the beginning of mine.