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Activating Healthy Lifestyle After Sports Injury Inspires Friends and Family

by Taylor Caccavale, 15
Student at Sandra Day O’Connor High School
Phoenix, Arizona

Last year I broke my leg and ankle playing softball, and it was a long painful six-month recovery. While frustrating, it motivated me to make important health and lifestyle changes to come back stronger and prove to my coaches and myself that I could be an even better player than I was before.

I used to take my softball skills for granted and didn’t push myself in training or make healthy choices prior to my injury.  With the support of my friends and family, I made it my comeback mission to push myself—and them—to make physical activity and healthy eating a priority. We started going to the gym together as a family. As a result, my mom has lost 60 pounds, my dad has lost 40 pounds, and my older sister is now taking her health more seriously too, being mindful of her portion sizes and making physical activity a part of her daily routine.

At Sandra Day O’ Connor High School in Phoenix Arizona, I became actively involved in our Student Wellness Advocacy Team (SWAT), led by my health teacher Dr. W. Shane Hesse. I believe a healthy school culture gives students opportunities to be active and allows my peers to talk and address topics with open discussions around healthy choices, mental health, sexual assault awareness, dating abuse in relationships, drug and suicide awareness, and more.

I also have taken my passion for creating healthy culture in my community by mentoring and developing younger athletes with a group called SFS, which stands for Stronger Faster Smarter. I believe it is important to start teaching children at a young age how to be active and live a healthy lifestyle. I teach them that starting somewhere is the most important part to building a foundation–whether that means getting involved in physical activities, advocating for what you believe, or leading others to be healthy in any dimension of wellness.

My mom says  that my determination after the injury gave me the right mindset to become a stronger athlete, which helped me make an elite softball team that competed at the summer 2019  Premier Girls Fastpitch Softball National Championship.

I hope my hard work and passion will result in a college softball scholarship where I can  continue the important mission of bringing healthy choices and physical activity to all.

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Taylor’s mom, Dawn Caccavale has championed the improvements in her family’s health and fitness: “We are more active together; our entire family has increased stamina with the weight loss.  We make better snack choices and manage stress better. I have also seen my children’s confidence grow inside and outside school.”