(Albuquerque, NM) New Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world! I don’t know if it is because of the great people I always seem to meet or the wonderful desert landscapes that continue to keep me in a state of awe. Most likely it is the people. This time I was invited by a fantastic PE teacher, Ann Paulls-Neal, to present a few sessions and share a short keynote at the New Mexico AHPERD Convention that was being held on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Ann is the elementary physical education teacher at John Baker Elementary School and has been very involved in leadership positions within the state.
After picking me up at the airport, Ann (with daughter Rebecca) took me to eat lunch at the Owl Cafe. This landmark restaurant is famous for their “Green Chili Cheese Burgers.” Of course, I had to have one! Tasting the green chili sauce on the burger quickly reminded me of a previous visit to Albuquerque.
On that visit, I worked with the staff of Sandia Pueblo’s Health Services’ student wellness program. Nestled under the towering Sandia Mountains, the reservation covers 22,877 acres on the east side of the Rio Grande Valley. One of 19 pueblos located throughout New Mexico, Sandia has its roots in the pre-Columbian Tiwa language group who at one time dominated this area of Albuquerque. Once the largest pueblo in the area with over 3,000 people, they currently have just under 500 members. Life expectancy rates have been in steady decline due to the overwhelming Type II diabetes and childhood overweight problems often found in American Indian communities.
Physical education, it seems, may be one of the solutions to this pressing problem!
Getting back to the NMAHPERD Convention… I would like to applaud everyone for all of their hard work in staging the most successful Convention in years! To Ann and Lonnie Neal – special thanks. To Dr. Gloria Napper-Owen, thanks for the ride back to the hotel (although I got us a bit lost). To Dr. Bill Blair and Dr. Derek Irion – hope to see each of you at the 2009 AAHPERD Convention in Tampa, Florida.
PS: I loved having the Awards Banquet at the Albuquerque Aquarium. Wow! It was amazing to view the large sharks, rays, and sea turtles happily swimming in the large plate glass floor-to-ceiling tanks.