Paying It Forward: Helping Others Become Physically Active
|James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., Director|
According to the Pay It Forward Foundation, the concept was started by a teacher who gave an extra credit assignment to her class to think of a way to make the world a better place. One of the students came up with an interesting idea: "Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of 'Pay It Forward,' describes it to his mother and teacher this way: 'You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven.' He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. 'Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?'"
One of the most profound and health-impairing secondary conditions occurring among many people with disabilities is social isolation and loneliness. They are often limited in what they can do in their neighborhoods because of lack of transportation, or because they live in poorly designed communities that contain inaccessible features such as badly surfaced or damaged sidewalks, obstructed travel paths, dangerous intersections, and high traffic volume. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way that NCHPAD could link people in their communities to someone with a disability who need some type of assistance in becoming more physically active? It's great that there are so many volunteers willing to drive a neighbor to church or the doctor's office; but it's equally important for communities to find ways to assist people with disabilities in becoming more physically active.
Sometime soon, NCHPAD will start its own Pay It Forward initiative by asking people to serve as an exercise buddy for someone in their community. This may involve calling their exercise buddy on the phone to keep motivation levels high, driving someone to the local Y, or walking or rolling with someone around the block a couple of times a week. See NCPAD’s forum link for exercise buddies at http://www.ncpad.org/phpBB/.
There is no better way to add value to your own life than by helping someone else. During this holiday season, think about what you can do in your own community to help another person become more physically active. The gift of health is one of the best gifts that anyone could receive. Happy Holidays.