Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I love to move! This is the key to keeping the balance to my physical and mental well-being. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of sports throughout my childhood. In elementary school and through to high school I played competitive soccer and in university I discovered my love for rugby. I played rugby at McGill University as a winger and hooker, and also for the Aurora Barbarians when I returned home to Toronto. After having my first child Bella, I started running, and this led to racing competitively in 5K, 10K and 1/2 marathons. At the age of 42, I still consider myself a competitive runner. I continue to thrive the nervous feeling I get in my stomach as I wait impatiently at the start line. I continue to desire the motivation to run fast through tired legs and blistered feet. However, now I race with my 13 year old daughter! Bella is disabled and has complex needs ranging from physical disabilities to cognitive disabilities. As I grip Bella’s adapted jogger and push her through our runs, I see her smiling and opening her mouth to catch the blowing wind. Her flapping hands tell me that she is filled with so much happiness. Sharing my passion with my daughter has taught me to be present, and in the moment. Running with Bella has brought a new light to endurance running and racing for me.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
I am a teacher, currently seconded as a Health & Physical Education Curriculum Consultant at the Ontario Physical & Health Education Association (@OpheaCanada). I try my best to inspire students to move with competence and confidence through healthy active living. I am passionate and dedicated to my profession, and am always learning how to bring creativity and innovation into my role as an educator and believe that making movement meaningful is for everyone of all abilities. As a parent of a child with varying disabilities, I have made it my mission to advocate and support families living with disabilities like mine. I do a lot of work in the area of equity and inclusion in Health & Physical Education. I believe that inclusion is more than awareness and tolerance. Inclusion starts by understanding that we are part of the community and deserve to be in an environment that is created so that we can meaningfully contribute and participate.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
Quality physical education and physical activity is the vehicle enabling all learners to participate, learn and play. Intentional programming will not only ensure that learners are participating, but also build the skills and knowledge to experience the joy of movement…. this goes for everyBODY! Educators, physical activity providers, and sport organizations need to take the time to create an inclusive environment that welcomes ALL abilities. This begins by creating an environment that requires a mindset that goes beyond the framework of a well-planned program. It involves an understanding of preferences, appropriate accommodations and modifications for each unique learner. Take the time to get to know the people on your playing field and in your room! Show us respect by understanding that we are full, with an individual personality, life experience, goals, and preferences. We all want to belong.
What is your favourite leadership quote?
“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.” – Liz Fosslien