At CCCBSD, many students have mobility challenges and require the assistance of wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices. When students step into the gym, Caitlyn Clair, APE (Adaptive Physical Education) teacher, makes sure that everyone is included and participating however they can. If a student uses a power wheelchair and is learning how to operate it themselves, she may have them focus on practicing their driving. For students who have wheelchairs they cannot maneuver on their own, she may tell the individual pushing them how to do so in a way that reflects a greater activity. For example, when playing kickball, one of the most exciting parts for students is the feeling of running fast from base to base. While keeping safety as a top priority, Caitlyn will encourage the person pushing the wheelchair to move quickly so the student can feel the wind on their face and have fun. Students who have walkers or gait trainers often focus on strengthening their skills with those devices, and she creates games where they can practice without feeling like they are doing work One way she accomplished this was with a scavenger hunt for the students around the school. In order to find all of the hidden items, students had to practice their walking or maneuvering, but did not feel like they were really working out because the activity was fun.
Caitlyn believes that APE is all about finding what works for each student, and encouraging them to push themselves. For some students, their task might be moving a ball off of their lap. For other students, it may be a game of catch. Each unit is tailored to the individual classes. For younger classes, it is not possible or practical to teach them every rule of every sport. Instead, Caitlyn evaluates the abilities of each class, and introduces rules that most benefit that class. Often, the improvements that can be seen in students are not just in terms of athletic skills, but also their independence. Where at the beginning of the year they may have been looking to Caitlyn for guidance, by the end they know what they are expected to do and what role they play in the sport and they go for it. The whole goal of APE is to build students’ independence in motor skills, while having fun!