Advocating for Athletes and Education

Linda Wallace & Jacqueline Hansen

I would be remiss if the first thing I posted did not acknowledge gratitude to the woman who made this site possible. And the academy award goes to one of my best of friends, Linda Wallace, a self-proclaimed tech geek and track & field fan. Got to love her, a woman after my heart. She is creative, intelligent and endlessly resourceful.

She also used the word “advocate” to describe me. I might have thought of it eventually, but I’m glad she did. So, my first posting will be as an advocate for my favorite causes: health and physical education for students everywhere and justice for women athletes.

Recently, I feel like my life is full of paradoxes at every turn. “Bittersweet” is a word that finds its way into my conversations on a daily basis as of late. I love sports, all things running in particular, and women’s sports of all kinds. If you know me, you know that for years I’ve been an advocate for the one and last event in the Winter Olympic Games without a female counterpart – Ski Jumping. I am at once delighted to share the experience and resources of the lawsuit I spearheaded for women distance runners preceding the 1984 Olympic Games in LA; and saddened at the fact that it’s twenty-eight years later and the IOC continues to discriminate against female athletes. It’s a long story to tell how these young women and I came to know each other, but trust me, I’ve seen them in action and they are brave and courageous athletes who deserve the world stage. I believe we are going to see them in the 2014 Games. Please support their cause and follow their careers: www.wsjusa.com

My conflicting feelings regarding health and physical education stem from one perspective, that it’s the most exciting time to be a health educator, given the nationwide attention to the issue, with the First Lady at the lead; but on the other hand, I am at this moment researching and creating a defense for someone trying to save health ed. curriculum in their school. Thinking optimistically, at least with all the media attention on the matter, I am fortunate to have a wealth of research, statistics and articles for my defense. I’ll call it my “save health ed.” project. If you’re interested in reading more, check out my growing Delicious bookmarks for information on the issue. And please feel free to suggest further reading.

I’ve been observing, for years, an interesting set of opposite issues across the country in regards to young students. At one end of the spectrum, we are faced with the obesity epidemic amongst sedentary, unfit children, with all the consequences that include chronic diseases, such as diabetes for one. At the other end, we see the over-booked student athlete who specializes in sports perhaps too young, is over-trained and plagued with overuse injuries previously only seen in older athletes. Where’s the balance? I say this is a heck of a time to be downsizing health and physical education in our schools.

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