Physical Abilities & Perseverance

Overcoming Disadvantages

Attitude Overpowers Limitations

Physical abilities play a big role in someone's perseverance. They can either be a setback or an advantage, but in either case, they can give someone an even more ambitious attitude. Kacy Catanzaro is 25-years-old and stopped growing at only five feet. A former gymnast, she trained for two years to be on American Ninja Warrior, a show with obstacles that require a lot of strength. Her physical abilities were a disadvantage considering many of the obstacles are designed for men closer to six feet tall. For example, one obstacle you have to run up is fourteen feet tall, almost three times her height. However, she wanted to show the world that despite being small, she could do it by working hard and persevering. In 2014 Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to complete a qualifying course.

Your physical build is not the only possible setback on the course. Vincenté (Vin-sen-tay) King, also a competitor, is twenty-three years old and has autism. Even though autism is more known for having a big effect on the brain, it also makes physical activity challenging. It makes it harder for Vincenté to understand how to strategize for the obstacles. With extra work and training, however, Vincenté came up with his own ways and tried out the course.

These two competitors are both similar and different. They were both born in a way that affects their abilities that can't be changed. And, these are both things that are setbacks on the course. The difference is that Kacy's is a physical disadvantage while Vincenté's is mental, which affects his ability to perform physical tasks. In the end, can a setback like this give a person ambition? For Vincenté and Kacy, the answer is yes. These two knew that it was not expected of them to do well, so they wanted to prove to the people who think that they aren't able to succeed that they are wrong. These are disadvantages, but these two persevere so that they can be the same or better than all the other competitors. So, instead of looking at it as a burden, their disadvantage became a gift. They gained more ambition and determination to complete the course.

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Physical setback-how do people deal with it?

Have you ever felt set back beyond repair? Well, then your not alone. That's how Jessica Carlisle felt in the book "The Running Dream" by Wendelin Van Draanen. When she was in high school, Jessica got in a car crash. It damaged her leg to the point where it was idle. She then had to get it amputated, get used to a prosthetic leg, and try to get back into track. Yes, track. The girl with one leg would have to go back to running. As you can imagine, this setback limited Jessica's physical abilities. Yet using perseverance, and the process of recovery, she was able to be successful.

The first step for getting better was simply to rest. After a painful experience like a car crash, your body needs a break- it needs to rest. Jessica spent many nights in the hospital. Then, when she had rested a while, it was time to make big decisions regarding her injury. Jessica realized an idle leg was useless. Even though it was hard to lose a leg, she decided it was logical to get her leg amputated as the doctors had suggested.

Next, Jessica had to make sure that her lower body stayed working despite having her leg removed. She began physical therapy a few weeks after the amputation surgery. She worked her hips and thigh that remained, to keep them active and used to movement. The physical therapy ensured that Jessica could move around as easily as possible.

After resuming activity, it was time for a prosthetic. Jessica's leg was molded so she could have a prosthetic leg made just right so that it fit comfortably. The first prosthetic was made, and Jessica tried it on. Day by day, improved prosthetics would be made for Jessica to try, until one was made just right. Then Jessica started figuring out how to use it. She stumbled a little for a few weeks, but she just kept trying. It was frustrating, but over several weeks, through lots of hard work, Jessica started to get the hang of it.

Lastly, slowly but surely, Jessica began to use her prosthetic leg and start moving around. She started walking on it with the support of two crutches, then one crutch, and then no crutch. She was walking on her prosthetic all on her own. Over the course of a few months, Jessica progressed slowly into more advanced activities. Eventually she got back into running, and after practice, she was ready to go back to track. Through all her determination, Jessica persevered to be successful in track.

Jessica Carlisle's physical abilities were greatly affected in a negative way from the car crash. She had to learn how to walk in a different way, but with perseverance, she made it possible. Jessica overcame a huge obstacle for running and reached her goals. If Jessica was successful with a prosthetic leg, I think we can all be successful by persevering through everyday setbacks.


The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The activity you do TODAY impacts your ability to be physical in the FUTURE

What makes a healthy, able body? There are many factors, but exercise is a very important one. Staying active will keep your body healthy. An effect of this is living longer with a stronger body and mind.

Research done at Harvard University showed that the men who burned two thousand calories a week lived two and a half years longer than the men who did not exercise to burn calories. Another study showed a 90 year old woman who worked on strength exercise for twelve years and took a whole twenty years off her thigh muscle age. She was able to move around easier. Those twelve weeks of exercise affected how easily she could get around and improved her overall body health. Lack of exercise is also the cause of joint pain, lack of energy, and shortage of breath as effects. But, if you exercise, you can improve your overall health, and have a more fit body which makes it easier to perform and complete physical tasks.

Exercise can cause you to feel better in your later years of life. An article by Mayo Clinic shows seven benefits of exercise, one being boosting your energy. The reason for this is because when you exercise, your body delivers more nutrients and oxygen to the tissues in your body. This helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When your lungs and your heart work better, you get more energy for everything from errands to work. You will also feel better in regards to your mood as well as your energy. As you may have heard, exercise puts you in a good mood. When you exercise your body stimulates brain chemicals such as endorphines that make you feel more relaxed. When your relaxed, it makes you feel happier since you are stress free.

Energy boosts and a better mood are two of the many results of exercise. When you exercise you are improving your heart's health which makes you more physically capable because you won't run out of breath. The hard part is getting yourself to actually exercise. You have to work hard and get past the tired feeling to know that you are doing good to your body. If you push yourself through the feeling of giving up, these effects will impact you and improve your body to how you want it to be.

Exercise gives you a healthy and able body. Making exercise a habit will allow you to do all of the things you want to and feel good doing them. It will carry over into your later years as well.


From your brain to your abilities

If you thought athletics were based on only your physical build, then you've been thinking wrong. For special needs children, they struggle to complete daily activities. It is easy to leave them out, and this is interfering with their physical abilities.

I have experienced this live and close up. See, I have this friend I met at school, you can call her Nicky. She struggles to understand the "Why's and the How's" in life specifically in sports. The way she was born, her brain works differently than ours. Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) have smaller spleniums (a part of the brain) therefore slowing down the process of understanding. But, from my observations on Nicky during school, I have noticed ways to give kids like Nicky an easier time in sports.

Gym class is where your physical abilities show. While partnering up with Nicky during a game of Frisbee, I noticed something. She had trouble with the mechanics of throwing a Frisbee. She tried to throw it like a ball instead of sideways. One solution I thought of was to simply have a positive attitude and be encouraging. I asked her calmly to watch me. I stayed calm, so she did too. I showed her my hand, and she copied what I did. I then showed her the motion of flicking your wrist. She did the same and finally got it down. The teacher had told her that if she didn't do it the way we said, she couldn't play. That worried her and she was afraid to try. When you use a stern voice, it stresses kids with a NVLD out. They then don't want to try new things and it decreases their physical abilities. You have to be willing to work with them and give them the opportunity to try again.

Another possible solution to the setbacks of NVLD in sports is repetition, and practice. An aid teacher came up with practice exercises for Nicky in the bowling unit. Nicky would sit in a chair, bend over and push the bowling ball as hard as she could for it to roll forward. I sat beside her and did it with her, 10 times. This carried through to the bowling game and she could knock down more pins. By repeating this exercise and practicing, Nicky worked hard to persevere through the setback of her NVLD.

I think all these kids with special brains just need encouragement and practice to improve their physical abilities. Things that seem simple to us are actually a lot of work for people like Nicky. She is putting in a lot of effort to persevere and do well but they need help from us. Although their brains work differently, we both have to persevere at times.


Birth defects: the challenge in physical activity

If you look in the dictionary, "Physical ability" is described as "the ability to perform some physical act." But with such a simple definition, it makes this topic seem so incredibly small, when there are so many challenges that affect a person's abilities.

A birth defect is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to physical activity and sports. A birth defect can be many different things, including being born with a missing limb, or more than one missing limb.

An example of this is Jennifer Bricker. She was born with no legs- there was nothing underneath her hips. This birth defect is known as congenital amputation. It basically means that at some point when the baby was in the womb, something went wrong with a cell. Possible reasons could be alcohol use, medication, or genes. However, 60-70% of birth defect causes are unknown, which means that it could just be coincidence. As you can imagine, having a missing limb limits a person's physical abilities. From a very young age, Jennifer's dream was to be a gymnast. Being born without legs made this dream very hard to achieve. But her success blew people away. Jennifer worked so hard that she became the gymnastics state champion, despite not having legs. She persevered by strengthening her arms and learning how to get around in a gorilla-like movement. Jennifer would put her fists out first, then swing her bodice forward after her arms. A birth defect is very hard to overcome. Jennifer Bricker is an exception because she worked hard and never used the word "can't." Now that doesn't mean she is the only person with a birth defect that can overcome this setback. If you work hard and always keep trying no matter what is thrown your way, you can be successful. Now lets forget about disadvantages that we may have, pull that word "can't" out of your vocabulary.

read more about Jennifer Bricker:

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