“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” – Carol Welch
Written by Bud Leiner
In this photograph, we see a group of young, athletic children. Their faces, highlighted with smiles, are bright and welcoming. Their chests adorned with medals of victory, demonstrating their valor and supremacy. The uniformity of their dress signifies their camaraderie and partnership. We can observe in the background, the mountain range depicting an enormous freedom. It brings in a sense of grandness and openness. The bright green grass contributes to this perception. The image describes the relationship between physical activity and childhood health, including physical, social and psychological.
Their physical health is largely apparent in their posture, facial expressions, and strong physical appearance. The physical activity is important to maintain throughout their maturation. Children who participate in physical activity have a tendency to remain active later in life (Perkins 499). Parents can empathize with this imagery, representative of successful, supportive involvement in their child’s life. As parents, we are often challenged to weigh the benefits of children’s activities against risk and rewards in all aspects of their lives. Through the analysis conducted by Perkins, et al, they demonstrated that children’s participation in sports through teenage years, produced a tendency for the individuals to continue active lifestyles at the age of thirty years old. This extended physical activity boosted those individuals physical well-being.
Fletcher also observed how children’s physical activity greatly improved their social and psychological aptitudes. We can identify specific mannerisms in this photograph to support Fletcher’s observations. The fact these children are teammates demonstrates the most obvious social interaction. Their reliance upon each other on the field helps develop trust and trustworthiness. Further, the children in the photograph are engaged with each other and, apparently, the photographer. This brings a familial appeal to the group. As Fletcher described “Children who were more involved in sports activities were rated by their teachers as more socially competent than peers who were less involved in such activities. Children who were more involved in sports activities also reported higher levels of psychosocial maturity.” (Fletcher 654)
Other aspects of the children’s lives are not as obvious in the imagery. For example, the physical activity of children also contributes to their scholastic performance. In Structured Leisure Activities, Anne Fletcher examined “children who were more involved in club activities received higher academic grades and were rated by their teachers as higher in academic competence than were their peers who were less involved in such activities” (Fletcher 653). The requirement in todays schools for children to maintain minimum grades to participate, is reflective of this observation.
I found it difficult to begin on this project. In an attempt to discover ideas, I browsed through various photographs of my children. As I looked at each photograph, I examined the images to discover visual content beyond the obvious subject. Through the process, I repeatedly observed my children engaged in various physical activities; be it soccer, football, hiking or a multitude of others. In my home, we customarily participate in sports and other outdoor events. Additionally, my children have consistently performed well academically and maintain healthy social engagements. Among their peers, I recognized the common physical participation in school events and its relation to level of academic advancement. In some cases, the attributes demonstrate negative correlation. Photographs of my children’s scholastically gifted teammates participating in school and social get-togethers. I saw photographs of some of my children’s peers who performed below average, and coincidently were not engaged in these types of social or physical activities. When I came to this selected photograph, it was like an epiphany. The imagery stood clear, as I described early with the characteristics of the children’s appearances.
With my struggles developing a strong argument for this visual essay, reviewing my peers work allowed me to see other ways of interpreting the assignment. It gave me an understanding of where Part 2 of the assignment should lead. Considering those works, I added the last few paragraphs of this essay to bring a larger focus on the steps I followed to choose this image and claim. Although my peers pointed out the less-than-obvious nature of my visual argument, I could not determine how to change the image itself to more eloquently deliver the same argument. Instead, I changed much of the order of my writing and attempted to focus more earnestly on the benefits of physical activity. I also modified the examination of the imagery to more explicitly present the story I read in the photograph.
Even though my work on this was poorly planned and arranged, I continued to make every effort to understand the assignment and complete it on time. My first interpretation of the assignment led me to find a photograph to support an argument. I eventually discovered a quality in the selected photograph and my research focused on expanding the presented argument. After having completed most of my research to describe how childhood activity contributes to health in adulthood, I was posed with an alternate interpretation of the original instructions. It was suggested our writing should focus on directly answering the questions about our writing process. I elaborated on the writing using this new direction. I gained from both the understanding of the relationship between physical activity and mental health, and the observation of how the image revealed the related characteristics of these children.
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Fletcher, Anne C., Pamela Nickerson, and Kristie L. Wright. Structured Leisure Activities In Middle Childhood: Links To Well-Being. Journal of Community Psychology. 31.6 (2003): 641-659. Print.
Perkins, Daniel F., Janis E. Jacobs, Bonnie L. Barber and Jacquelynne S. Eccles. “Childhood and Adolescent Sports Participation as Predictors of Participation in Sports and Physical Fitness Activities During Young Adulthood.” Youth Society 35.4 (2004): 495-520. Online, http://yas.sagepub.com/content/35/4/495.