Shape America Nashville Reflection

I have just got returned from Nashville where I was lucky enough to attend the Society of Health and Physical Education National Convention. This is my third convention in the United States and I feel each time it gets better as I seem to learn more that I can engage in, meet individuals to network with and find subjects to advocate about. I borrow my three themes from MAHPERD’s President Kennedra Tucker @MsTuckerRocksPE who presented her thoughts on social media where she became Engaged, Networked, and Advocated! You can find her presentation at the bottom of this blog and I would highly recommend following her, as she is hugely insightful and passionate. I am so pleased I could meet her in person at this conference – thank you Kennedra!

I began the conference instantly by engaging and providing service to my national organization. I spent Tuesday morning volunteering on the express registration desk. I thoroughly enjoyed this and as a team, we managed to check in just over 1500 members! Last, I heard we had 3700 in attendance in total so this was a significant amount of people that turned up day one. I enjoyed volunteering on the desk because I was able to meet a lot of members and find out where they came from and what their aims for the conference were. I realized throughout my time on the desk the diverse group of members SHAPE has, all attending the convention for different reasons… this is something I will come back to later.

Wednesday, day two, began by engaging with the research council and program council meetings with Terri Drain @terridr99.  Terri is on the board of directors and we had a passionate conversation regarding the future of PE in the United States. Terri is a great person to engage with because as a practitioner she always has students (our customers) interests at heart but as a leader in PE Terri understands as a profession we can always do better. Someone else who understands this, who I was really happy to hang out with, was Andy Milne @carmelhealth, Dr. Tom Parry @dr_tomparry, and Dr. Steve Harvey @drstephenharvey also from England. We had a really great conversation about sociocultural issues in society and advocating for social justice in PE, something I am hugely passionate about! The banter between the three of us really makes my experience at Shape and it is my little touch of home!


[Terri and I at the Program Council Meeting Wednesday morning]

Wednesday afternoon turned out rather busy for me, I engaged and networked a lot! Myself and Ashley Phelps (PhD student at Austin Texas) facilitated the graduate student forum. The forum is an opportunity for graduate students to come together and get to know faculty members. As part of my responsibility as the graduate student member of the research council of Shape America I was designated to run the forum two years ago. Ashley is the new representative as my service turn has come to an end this convention and so I passed over the reins! The session was very informal and Dr. Thom McKenzie kindly presented on how to get grants, a requirement of most faculty members in higher education. I am very appreciative of all the faculty members that gave up their time to attend this session. Unfortunately, I had to leave early and run to my poster presentation in the exhibition hall where I presented research on the embodied experiences of elite wheelchair athletes allowing some engaging conversations and networking with a lot of disability orientated researchers. One person that stood out to me was Dr. Justin Haegele @Justin_Haegele. Myself and Justin had very different ideas on educating minority groups such as those with a disability. I was advocating and suggesting for an inclusive curriculum, whereby teachers included all students in lessons as part of a whole school curriculum approach. Whereas Justin advocated for segregated classes because he did not think teachers were not able to provide this provision. Though Justin and I did not agree, I appreciated this honesty and openness and it made me look at my research from someone else’s perspective. I thank Justin for his insight and provoking my thinking. This to me, is what Shape is all about, leaving with more questions than answers in some cases.


[Poster Session]

Thursday, I was finally able to attend some sessions myself as Friday I was volunteering again and thanks to Dr. Hans van der Mars I went to the McCloy breakfast then to some research related sessions such as the Raymond Weiss lecture. The afternoon ended with my presentation with Drs. Sue Sutherland, Jennifer Walton-Fisette & Sara Flory (all amazing role models for me as a female going into higher education and lifelong friends). We presented on social justice in PE & PETE. I was really pleased with the turn out at this event, and to see that so many individuals are interested in promoting social justice, diversity, and inclusion through movement. Sue created a handout for this session so feel free to email me/tweet me if you want a copy and I will happily share it with you. Through this presentation, I learned so many things from the participants (co-collaborators I like to call them). Firstly, social justice must be embedded in our practice every single day and we must be aware of current sociocultural issues. Being an advocate is not something you can just dip in and out of! Many of you have read my previous blogs where I openly write about my mission to live and teach as humanely as possible, this is something I want to share more of in the next year. Hold me to it friends! I was also reminded of the importance of advocating more about how I feel about these issues more openly.

In my attempt to publicly do this, below is a list of some aspects of Shape that I want to advocate for:

  1. Conference location:

Where the conference is held? What does it say to our members when we hold a conference somewhere that does not support all our members. Tennessee as a state has not passed the bill for transgender bathrooms. This meant that faculty members in California were not supported in their efforts to attend this conference and missed out on a professional networking event on the basis that their universities would not support Tennessee. Considering a number of our members are a part of the LGBTQI community how did they feel about coming to Tennessee or did they come?

Idea: Shape America consider selecting an inclusive conference location.

  1. Volunteers must be valued

Most of the organizational aspect of the event relied on volunteer members. These members must be valued and attendees of the event should recognize these individuals. This is important considering on the desk some of my fellow volunteers were not spoken to all that nicely. If we want our young volunteers such as undergraduate students to continue to volunteer year on year then it is important that we provide a positive experience for them.

Idea: a volunteer luncheon/dinner where volunteers could meet others, or a volunteer certificate of recognition, or potentially providing snacks for long shifts.

Note: I am not looking for a personal pat on the back here, I am looking for a collective appreciation of peoples service.

  1. Decision making related to board members/scholar lectures/awardees/program councils

The Shape board, councils, and awardees need to reflect the diversity of their members. The current elected makeup of the current board/winners of awards from minority groups is lacking, this means a dominant representation within the organization is perpetuated and members from minority groups do not see themselves represented. A variety of scholar lectures by a variety of scholars that show a different aspect of PE – not just the physical activity/motor competence aspect (standard 1) should be incorporated into the program. Personally, I would like to see more on meaningful and joyous PE and sociocultural issues highlighted considering they both affect the amount of physical activity one will do (standard 5).

Idea: a decision-making guideline that ensures all decisions are equity based. Also, a social justice and inclusion representative on the board from the Social Justice & Inclusion Special Interest Group ‘SIG’ to represent the ideas on how this can be done from members of the SIG (credits to Dr. Martha Hassan @DrJamesHassan for this one. Info on how to join the SIG is below).


[The social justice & inclusion SIG at shape]

  1. Get feedback throughout the event

We can easily collect feedback through the event, I know this is done on the program session co-ordinator but sessions should allow five minutes before the end so this can be completed.

Idea: we could also set up IPADs so that individuals can tell us about their day as they go past the registration desk.

  1. Rooming logistics

Continue making same themed sessions in the same room, I heard this was particularly helpful from a lot of people. With a large convention centre, this can be helpful.

Idea: clear signposting ‘measurement and evaluation room’, ‘social justice focused room’.

  1. Continue having a social event where everyone can congregate and network

Please ensure the location is accessible to all members including those from low income, individuals with a disability and parents who had children at the event.

Idea: consider making the event earlier, family friendly as a number of parents brought their families to the event (it was spring break for many) and having a free sitter service – this could also be helpful for single parents so they can come to sessions during the day. Linking with the local university where they often have students already background checked and in need of volunteer hours could help this.


[Myself with Netball America at the social – give them a follow they are all awesome @NetballAmerica]

  1. Continue supporting the ‘send a teacher’ to shape initiative

Information can be found here: then maybe next year our long lost PE friend Justin Schleider @SchleiderJustin can make it!


[Myself & Andy in my send a teacher to shape shirt]

  1. Invite K-12 students

We spend so long talking about ‘our students’ but when do we bring them to the event and allow them to experience sessions and have a voice on what we think is a great curriculum? Myself and @SchleiderJustin have spoken about this at length. How fun would it be to bus in a group of local students, sometimes you wouldn’t even need to bus in students… In Nashville, I met a teacher on the escalator who told me her students are two blocks away. To have those students come and take part in sessions would be awesome, not only are they volunteer participants for sessions but then presenters can showcase their REAL-life teaching!

Idea: collaborate with local teachers about having their students come to the event, make designated student friendly sessions and allow them to have free access to the exhibition hall, they could help showcase the demos that occur!

Something I haven’t written and have ran out of time for (but it is important) was my amazing network of fellow grad students. I am so lucky to have met such an awesome group of individuals throughout my time at Shape. Thank you for a wonderful week friends!

Thank you for reading! All my ideas are purely suggestions to make conventions EVEN BETTER. Feel free to get in touch or correct me on anything I did not accurately write!

I wonder… how did you engage, network and advocate at Shape this year? Let us know your thoughts!


[One of my grad student friends Shannon at the social]


Kennedra Tucker’s presentation: Thank you to @MrHorne101 for broadcasting this.

Information on how to join the social justice and inclusion special interest group at Shape:

Information on program councils:

Information on Shape America’s standards:

Written by Shrehan Lynch – March 26, 2018

7 thoughts on “Shape America Nashville Reflection”

  1. I am from Nashville, and I am not sure if I would have ever come to a national convention if it wasn’t in my backyard. Now I can’t wait to go to Tampa. I do believe we need to be mindful of all populations. My professor from California was going to stay with me before he hurt his back because the state wasn’t going to reimburse him because of our state’s laws on LGBTQ. I might not agree with how our state handles this issue but I greatly benefited by having #SHAPENashville 20 minutes from my house.

    Point 5: This was nice but there were many sessions that were overcrowded and the participants thought they were going to have more room.

    Point 6 -7: Love both of these. The social was packed. I would love to sponsor someone to go to #SHAPETampa this convention totally changed my mindset on the national convention.

    Point 8: When I go to basketball conferences they bring a local HS team in for the coaches to demo. What if we did this at the conferences? I like getting up and participating but then teachers can see how the activity is implemented to the right audience.

    Kennedra Tucker #PhysedTalks challenged me to be more mindful of the importance of diversity.

    Great Reflection. Love learning from others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for engaging Alex, I appreciate your time. I personally would like to see an array of students (not just elite students) at demos that reflect our diverse student body. So pleased you were able to come to Shape and hopefully see you next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. FYI regarding accessibility to all members/transgender specifically, the contract for this convention was signed about 8 years ago. It was literally the first contact the Music City Center had; it wasn’t even built yet. The advocacy and laws of transgender were not fully on the radar nor predictable at that point. Convention contracts are much bigger than reserving rooms; they include hotels, exhibit managers, A/V companies, catering, and more. All that to say, I’m sure the costs to break contracts are hefty. I’m certainly not speaking on behalf of SHAPE, but sharing the little insight O do have as local coordinator.
    Thanks for serving as a volunteer!


    1. One more thing, our group conveyed to SHAPE that acknowledging volunteers needs to happen in some public shape or form, rather than just thanking the local coordinators. We had over 160 volunteers that made the convention machine run. So hopefully in Tampa we will see change.


    2. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts. Respectfully, I believe in the United States transgender non-discrimination laws began in 2001 so I think this conversation has been occurring for slightly longer than 2 years with 19 states adopting non-dis laws back then. With regard to canceling the conference, my informant told me it was 4 years ago the contract was signed. I had read into this some prior to my post. There is currently a pre-agreement form on the music centers website that articulates the cost of canceling the conference you can find a sample one here: I would expect, however, signing 4 or 8 years in advance the contract would look very different. However, I do believe Shape could have put out an inclusion related position statement regarding holding the conference in Nashville considering the recent (past couple of years) bathroom bills and movements/lack thereof related to the LGBTQI community.


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