The 2016 David P. Beaver APA Professional Young Scholar Award has been presented to Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences Assistant Professor Dr. Megan MacDonald. The award is given annually to a young professional within the first seven years of his or her post-graduate career. Established in 2015, the award honors the memory of David P. Beaver, editor-in-chief of the adapted physical activity publication, Palaestra.
[Photo: Dr. Megan MacDonald]
“This award recognizes a young faculty member who has great potential to be a leader in adapted physical activity,” says CPHHS professor and Dr. MacDonald’s nominator, Dr. J.K. Yun. “Over the past few years, Dr. MacDonald has demonstrated her dedication and potential to make significant contributions to the field.”
“I’m humbled to receive this award,” Dr. MacDonald says. “At OSU, across the country and beyond I work with amazing professionals in the field of adapted physical activity. We’re a very supportive community and I feel fortunate to be a part of this professional group and to be recognized for the work I do in the CPHHS and OSU.”
Dr. MacDonald has been an assistant professor of adapted physical activity at OSU since 2011. Prior to coming to Corvallis, she served as director of S.M.I.L.E. (Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience) and was a lecturer at Acadia University’s School of Recreation Management and Kinesiology in Nova Scotia, Canada. She received her PhD in Kinesiology from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.
It was during her time as an undergraduate student at Acadia that Dr. MacDonald was drawn into the APA field. She volunteered for the S.M.I.L.E. program, which is similar to CPHHS’ IMPACT program, which brings physical activity programs to children, youth and young adults with special needs. While volunteering with S.M.I.L.E., Dr. MacDonald woke up at 6 a.m. every Saturday to work with students in the program, and it was through those experiences that she found her calling.
“I’ve personally benefitted from individualized physical activity instruction and participation opportunities, which have influenced who I am today,” Dr. MacDonald says. “Unfortunately, inequities exist for people with disabilities. I believe physical activity should be accessible to all, whether through adapted equipment, individualized instruction or more generally inclusive participation opportunities. This is what drew me to the APA field.”
The benefits of physical activity are what keeps Dr. MacDonald’s spark and interest in the field alive. For her, she’s experienced the positive consequences of being active firsthand, which makes it easy to pass that energy and passion to her students and individuals with disabilities.
“There are many physical benefits to participating in physical activity, including better health,” she says. “But health is more broad than just our physical health, and there are social and participatory benefits that impact our mental health. I believe there are amplified benefits for individuals with disabilities and that learning important skills to become physically active are critical to an individual’s overall healthy development.”
The David P. Beaver APA Professional Young Scholar Award includes a one-year membership to the National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID) and a recognition plaque. The award’s recipient is also invited to submit a paper for publication in Paleastra.