My parents have given me a lot of wonderful gifts throughout my lifetime. There was my childhood collection of beanie babies, my first set of hockey equipment, a trip to Space Camp (I was destined to be an Astronaut in 6th grade!) and most importantly, the encouragement and support to pursue my dreams. However, looking back now as an adult, I think the most important gift they gave me was the gift of movement.
I grew up in Minnesota in the early 90’s with a pond in our backyard where I learned to ice skate, a cul-de-sac out front that served as our baseball or kickball diamond, and, once our daily chores were complete, the freedom to play. Most days I followed my two older brothers around, determined to do what they did. If they climbed to the top of the swing set, I did too. If they were playing catch or riding their bikes, I had to keep up. When we complained about being bored, we were encouraged to go outside, to go build something, or to go play a game. We didn’t go more than a day or two without inventing a new game, which obviously came with plenty of arguments over rules and finding clever new ways to make sure the other sibling didn’t win. Learning through play was a critical part of my childhood.
By learning, practicing, and developing fundamental movement skills (I didn’t know they were called this until recently) at a young age, I was afforded choice as I grew up. Being a #mover allowed me to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities and experiences that otherwise might have been too daunting. And with each successful step, I gained confidence to be myself, to meet new people, and to say, “If I can do that, what else can I do?” That inner confidence and willingness to ask myself, “what else?” has opened doors that I never could have dreamed of as a child.
Unlike those beanie babies I eventually sold at a garage sale, understanding the importance of movement is a gift that I will keep my entire life. It’s a gift that continues to push me try new activities, to climb new mountains (figuratively and literally), and to prioritize my physical and mental wellbeing as I tackle life’s ups and downs. I joined the Movement in a Box team because I want every child to feel the pride of learning a new skill for the first time, experience the joy from laughing and playing freely with friends and family, gain the confidence to say ‘yes’ to new experiences, and ultimately come to appreciate and spread the gift of movement.