When I was a little girl, around the age of 6, I was playing catch with one of my tee-ball coaches. We were throwing the ball back and forth and I was using my favorite baseball mitt. I slept with this mitt and would bring it to Red Sox games when my Uncle would buy us last minute tickets. I used to sit high up in the stands every inning, holding my mitt up, just waiting and believing my chance was coming to catch that elusive foul ball. I loved my mitt and remember my coach throwing the ball to me for the first time… and I caught it. I caught it right in that perfect spot in my glove where it felt like it belonged. I was so proud of my catch that I wrapped my fingers around the ball and with as much force and determination as I could muster and then threw it back to him. After he caught the ball, he jogged over to me and stopped right in front of me with this surprised look on his face and he said something I will never forget. He said, “Wow…you have such a strong throwing arm!” It was as if his words travelled right into my center, my core, and just began echoing. It was as if he had pressed play on a recording and it continued to resonate and repeat itself and with each repetition my confidence grew bigger and bigger.
From that moment, whenever I was on the playground, in the yard, or on the baseball field I would always find some kind of ball. I loved footballs, basketballs, baseballs, softballs, and anytime I would throw one I remember the strength and power that I felt. I kept hearing those words over and over again in my mind: “You have such a strong throwing arm.” And slowly over time the words became, “I have such a strong throwing arm.” I remember so vividly my belief that if I wanted to I could throw the ball to the other side of the planet!
Between the ages of 8-10 I was the pitcher on the local town boys baseball team. I had such pride in pitching and throwing the ball towards the plate. I don’t remember thinking about the strategy of the game, or even thinking about striking out the batter. I just remember throwing the ball as hard as I could. I would always wonder, could I throw this ball over the top of the dugout fence? Could I throw it past the base? Could I throw it to that tree? How far could I throw this thing? Winning and losing never meant too much to me. Interestingly, sport was more about, “how far can I throw this ball?” I was always the kid that wanted to compete with myself and see if I could do something a little bit better.
My mom used to tell me, when I was really little on the playground, I would watch everyone else go up and down the slide. I would sit back and watch until I finally felt like I knew I could do it. I don't know how I developed the skills or how I developed that extra confidence to finally take that leap, but I needed to see that it was safe and to first see other people try it. I loved seeing all of the ways they would go down the slide. I loved waiting until they were leaving and then I would climb up and begin experimenting with all of the different ways of sliding that they had just taught me. I would do it again and again until I discovered a way of sliding that I loved the most.
This mindset of being curious about different ways of moving and exploring the world and always wanting to push myself in my own way has served as an incredible foundation for myself as a mover. This curiosity has also helped me understand, connect with, and help support others as a movement educator because every person has such a unique way of exploring movement. Everyone is motivated differently. Everyone has unique abilities. Everyone moves at their own pace.
Our “Why” behind launching Movement In A Box is the understanding that if every child had that moment, of someone telling them that they have a really strong arm, and more importantly, of feeling their own physical capacity, they can then achieve their movement potential. Even if the statement and positive reinforcement they hear is completely different, it means the same thing to a child’s ears. Positive coaching means, "I see you, you're amazing and look what you're capable of." Imagine if every child could explore their own physical dimension, at their own pace, and uniquely experience different forms of movement and physical activity? Imagine how children could find their very own super-power if we helped them experience those moments more often. Imagine what this positive learning would spark in them. Unfortunately, in today's world, only six states in this country require or mandate physical education for children ages K through 12. Furthermore, we're incredibly sedentary as a society and movement has been stripped from us, even trickling down into preschools. Now is the time to bring movement-based learning and the introduction of fundamental movement skills like throwing and catching into every home.
If we can help support families and caregivers and give them the tools that they need to be empowered, to cater a movement experience that exists between them and their children, and that is unique to their child, imagine how many children will hear how strong their arms are and how capable they are!