Editor’s note: This post was updated Dec. 12, 2019.
There are many ways to encourage your child to be physically active and increase their physical literacy. Sometimes you simply need to show them the courage it takes to try something new.
Our family had a chance to give a flying trapeze a try. It seemed exciting, but I was not the youngest or fittest parent. I wasn’t the fastest or strongest. But the day I faced my fear of heights to try flying trapeze with my children, I was the active role model they needed.
Outside (high above) my comfort zone
I didn’t have to fly.
Guest post by AfL Role Model Joan Chand’oiseau
from mADD world.
Nobody expected me to try anything that made me uncomfortable – certainly not flying trapeze! Besides the fact that I am the boss of me, I admit that:
- I am not at my peak level of fitness (understatement)
- I’m a wee bit afraid of heights in the way that even balconies can make me woozy
- I have found that age has somehow made it so that I am no longer the first person to raise my hand excitedly to try something new.
But these are also all the reasons why I forced myself to do it. It was time I took myself outside my comfort zone; to call upon the adventurous version of myself deep within me and oft-forgotten. I remembered my pre-family, risk-taking personality, the one that easily took on huge unknowns to reach greater joys, understandings, and possibilities. What the heck happened to her, anyway?
I felt butterflies in my tummy just climbing the ladder. What was I thinking?
It was perfectly safe. I reminded myself that I was securely hooked up to a safety device from the moment I began to climb. But my heart was still pounding and my belly was doing serious flip-flops when I thought of my body doing the same. The catch team and my daughter encouraged me all the way up to the tall platform shouting:
- “One rung at a time.”
- “Don’t look down.”
- “Look up to where you are going!”
And that’s how I got there. One step at a time. Primarily focused on what lay ahead.
Though still scared, I leaned very far out from the platform and jumped.
Swinging high above the large safety net was exhilarating. In that moment, I had no thoughts of the experience as a metaphor for growth.
Literally “letting go,” I showed my children – and, just as importantly, reminded myself – that fear is a natural part of stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
New adventures: flying high
Believe it or not, flying trapeze is a sporting activity that an entire family or group of varying ages, gender, and abilities can enjoy together. Flyers come in all shapes and sizes. Flyers are young and old and have varying levels of athletic skills. They have successfully taught several young people with ADHD and ASD, including my own children.
Every flyer remembers their racing heart on their first climb up the tall ladder to the trapeze platform and the exhilaration of taking that first leap. That’s why flyers reciprocate courage and more; they cheer on each other’s achievements and constantly help each other to improve.
The encouragement my son received during and after his first fly was the thing that gave him the courage to try again.
I hope our family continues to fly together, to challenge ourselves with new adventures, to continue to gain physical literacy and develop new skills, and to regularly step outside our comfort zones. My wish is that we will always encourage one another to grow to new heights.
We have quickly grown to love flying trapeze. We know the great value it brings to our family and our local Calgary community. Our family is proud to help keep flying trapeze a part of Calgary for years to come.
Rocky Mountain Flying Trapeze is a non-profit recreation club run entirely by volunteers. They are the only organization in Alberta offering instruction in the circus sport of flying trapeze to the public. Their mission is to share their passion for the increasingly popular and unique sport of flying trapeze with people of all ages and abilities in an open and encouraging environment.