Speaking of Physical Literacy, Part 2: Becoming Travel Agents
In March 2015, Ever Active Schools hosted a Physical Literacy Summit in Calgary, Alberta. I was invited to close the Summit and chose the following title for my talk: Becoming Travel Agents for a Storied Physical Literacy Journey. I also revised and refined this keynote for another Summit hosted in Winnipeg, Manitoba in October 2015.
My purpose in choosing this title and topic was to bring together the life-course aspect of physical literacy with the concept of storied lives. Since we know that physical literacy is a journey, not a destination, I thought the metaphor of travel agent was appropriate. Travel agents facilitate key experiences and assist with the progress of our travels. However, no one comes back from a trip and shows you their itinerary – no way. They tell you stories. What follows here is a synopsis of how we might become travel agents for Canada’s children – helping them to build a storied physical literacy journey.
In the last post, I shared a definition of physical literacy. Today, I want to add the idea of moral purpose.
“A compelling and inclusive moral purpose steers a system, binds it together, and draws the best people to work in it” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 76)
In other words, “Why do you do what you do?” I feel that for those of us who work with children and any form of physical activity – health, education, sport, recreation and home/family – physical literacy can be that moral purpose. Here are some quick examples of compatible goals/vision statements found within each of these sectors that can connect to a moral purpose of physical literacy. Although these examples are specifically from Manitoba (woot, woot – shout out!), I would be VERY surprised to find much difference in other regions.
- Health: “…to meet the health needs of individuals, families and their communities … A health system that promotes well-being…”
- Sport: “…a goal to advance the health, social and recreational benefits of sport and the overall performance of Manitoba athletes…”
- Education: “…ensure that children and youth have access to an array of educational opportunities to experience success to prepare them for lifelong learning and citizenship…”
- Recreation: “…enable Manitobans to fully develop their innate capabilities and creatively use their energies, while enriching their lives and improving their health and sense of well-being.”
- Home/Family: Hmmm… Would there be any parent that would disagree with the above values and goals for their child?
Margaret Whitehead expressed this very concept of a shared moral purpose at the International Physical Literacy Conference in Banff (2013).
Our mission or challenge is to do all we can to enable ALL to make progress on their individual physical literacy journey.
What if all areas touching on physical activity bought into and operationalized physical literacy? Powerful. Efficacious. Life changing.
Since we can’t MAKE someone physically literate, it becomes our mission to: Provide enriching and enhancing environments in which kids can have positive, educative experiences. What might this look like? To go back to Margaret Whitehead’s talk in Banff (2013) she shared the following about creating experiences to foster physical literacy:
- Rewarding and enjoyable – fostering motivation
- Positively effect self confidence and self-worth
- Enable progress and have success in a wide range of pursuits
- Empower decision making
- Enable appreciation of life-course physical activity
- Energize for proactive participation
Therefore, our roles, whether in education, sport, recreation, home/family or health, are to be travel agents for a storied physical literacy journey. Travel agents don’t send everyone to the same place! They take time to get to know you, your dreams, skills, passions, past experiences – then they craft an experience that meets YOUR needs. When you get back home, you don’t shares clinical, dry details of your trip. NO! You tell stories. Stories of risk, surprise, joy, learning and new experiences. If you need a refresher on the power of story – check this out.
I encourage you to become physical literacy travel agents to help kids (or adults!) take steps on their individual journeys. As you do so, remember:
It’s about relationships – take someone along – connect across sectors.
Where do we want kids to go? Where do THEY want to go? Choose destinations with the CLIENT’s needs at heart – not yours.
Explore and try new things… Nuff said.
Take (acceptable) risks!
Remember, it’s a life-long journey! The value is in the journey – not the destination.
Be a travel agent.
Do what’s best for kids.
Enable ALL to make progress on their PL journeys
LIVE Storied LIVES.
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