I had to watch the YouTube video of Stephen Jepson’s story more than once. He’s in his early 70s and has a great zeal for life. The video shows him hopping across rocks barefoot, walking a slack rope, riding his elliptical bike, climbing a vertical ladder supported by guide wires, and throwing knives.
Stephen Jepson is a learning theorist, inventor, athlete, artist, and a kid at heart who has turned his property into a playground. His key to a long and healthy life is play.
He says in the video, “My memory has become absolutely intense since beginning to do all these things” and he never falls. During his playground activities, he alternates between his dominant and non-dominant hand and foot. All of the activities shown, like playing jacks, stick flipping, and juggling on a Bongo board, are helping him build neural pathways, grow new brain cells, develop balance and coordination, and are key to preventing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. One of his main goals is to prevent bone breaking falls in himself and others.
Although he never mentions the systems by name, it seems he is highly in tune with his brain’s proprioceptive and vestibular systems. Interestingly enough, I found a good blurb about these systems on the Orange County Learning Disabilities Association’s website. Here’s the link for the quote below: http://www.oclda.org/sensory.html
When the neurobiology dysfunctions, it causes distortions in the sensory system of the body. Without proper neurobiological support, the ability to touch, see, and hear can be distorted. When vestibular and proprioceptive systems are inadequate, such perceptions as the ability to know where one is in space, to have a sense of time, and even to have a sense of humor can be distorted in such a way that the individual has difficulty perceiving the world correctly. Visual, auditory, and tactile responses must be able to perceive, interpret and process information so that a child can learn about the world around him/her. Without good sensory integration, learning and behavior is more difficult and the individual often feels uncomfortable about himself, and cannot easily cope with ordinary demands and stress.1
Basically, if we don’t have adequate vestibular and proprioceptive systems, we are more likely to fall since we can’t perceive where we are in space (which also hinders learning and other things). I guess kids and adults can all use a little more play. Many of the playground items Stephen uses, like the hurdles made from PVC pipe, you can make yourself and set up in your backyard.
Stephen reminds us that it is never too late to learn– hence, the science of neuroplasticity.
He encourages others to,”Be bold in your life choices, it is just going to make your life richer.” His message, “Never leave the playground.”
What ways are you going to play today?
Thanks to Growing Bolder broadcasting for sharing Stephen’s story!
Check out the video and be inspired! http://youtu.be/aUf72dLf22c