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A decision to participate

Dr. TA Loeffler talks to students at Sheshatshiu Innu School about her outdoor adventures.

By Michelle Osmond

One of Dr. TA Loeffler's favourite parts of her expedition on the Churchill River this past summer was "immersing myself in Labrador once more."

As soon as the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR) professor and outdoor adventurer returned home from the Big Land, she was hoping to go back. Recently, she got her wish. Dr. Loeffler spent a day at Sheshatshiu Innu School visiting classrooms and talking about her countless expeditions thanks to a provincial contest.

Trisha Keough-Boyer, a graduate student in the master's of physical education (MPE) program, is the program director with School Sports NL (SSNL). She approached Dr. Loeffler about being a "prize" in a recent School Sports NL Participation Nation Education Week contest. Dr. Loeffler enthusiastically agreed.
Ms. Keough-Boyer says they chose Dr. Loeffler with the hope of encouraging the students to participate in physical activity.

"We provide opportunities but feel that the students need to make the decision to participate. Students may encounter challenges in their lives that hinder them from being active, or they are simply choosing not to be active. SSNL believes that TA is a great role model for our youth. She has set her goals and keeps striving to achieve them."

Dr. Loeffler has visited more than 80 schools in Canada and some as far away as Switzerland. That's more than 32,000 students and counting. This was her first school in Labrador.

Dr. Loeffler showed the K-6 students her presentation We Are All Adventurers.
"I showed slides and told stories about my many climbs and explorations with the hope of inspiring them to explore, develop curiosity and be physically active," she said.

After the presentation, Dr. Loeffler answered a lot of questions from the students ranging from how cold it can get on the mountains to how she travels there and how dangerous it can be.

She also presented Rising to the Challenge of Big Dreams to the students in Grades 7-12.

"I showed pictures and told stories in hopes of both sharing my broad experiences of exploring seven continents but also asking the students to consider what mountain, metaphoric or otherwise, they would like to aim for."
While in Sheshatshiu, Dr. Loeffler was presented with a traditional tea doll that one of the community's elders made.

"The tea doll is extra special to me because a tea doll is often taken when Innu folks go into the country, or as I would say, on expedition, so I appreciate the connection between their journeys on and their relationship to the land, since it is such an important part of both my personal and professional life."

Playing host in Sheshatshiu was Memorial alumnus Greg Quilty, who has been teaching in Sheshatshiu since the school opened in 2009. Dr. Loeffler was pleased to see an HKR alum making a difference in his chosen community.

"It was great to spend the day with an HKR grad and hear how he was putting into practice all that he had learned at Memorial," noted Dr. Loeffler. "He's making good things happen in his school. It was a rich and full day in Labrador
and I hope it opens more doors and that I can return and visit more schools and communities."

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