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Teacher: Don Knitt who teaches at Hewett Academy Middle School in Winter Haven, FL. Don Knitt can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Disability Awareness in Physical Activity

Rationale/Purpose of Event: This unit was designed for our students, faculty, and staff to discover and explore together the world of a disabled individual. To create an awareness of what the world is like from the perspective of a disabled person, and how can we better understand what it takes to include them in our physically active lives.

Suggested Grade Level: 6-8

Materials Needed: Wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, blindfolds, variety of balls, bowling pins, jump ropes, batting tee, plastic bat and ball (larger than normal), paddles with fluff tennis balls, playground balls, medicine balls, scooters.

Disability Awareness in Physical Activity

This program was developed in a progression of activities from learning basic maneuvering and manipulating adaptive equipment to developing the skills to participate in small adaptive games and other physical tasks. After each day students wrote reflective paragraphs in their "Sportfolios" regarding their feelings and experiences.

Day 1: Introduction of the weeks activities. Students learned the proper use of a wheelchair, crutches, and walkers. All students had multiple opportunities to practice, and if they wanted to leave the physical education field for a water break they had to choose one of the types of equipment to travel to and from the fountains over not the smoothest of terrain. At the end of the class session we had a cool down and discussion about the students feelings toward the types of equipment they tried. They also talked about people they know, family and friends that have disabilities and how it affects them.

Day 2: Students were shown a video from the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which showed athletes participating in winter sports in Winter Park, CO. Special attention was given to the blind snow skiers. Students chose a buddy to travel/escort them from the locker room to the physical education area (about 100 yards). One person had eyes closed the entire way, the other used verbal and touching cues to have then walk safely. During our daily warm-up routines all students stretched with eyes closed, focusing on feeling their bodies and muscles. Then we sat in total silence and darkness to listen for sounds we normally ignore. This provided for some very insightful comments in their daily journal.

Station 1: Wheelchair weave through cones 100 yds.
Station 2: Walkers around cones about 50 yds.
Station 3: Blind run - 50 yds, blindfolded, with a baton sliding on a rope with students on each end giving verbal cues.
Station 4: Kicking a soccer ball while walking with crutches.
Station 5: Water Break - 25 yds. from playground over sand and grass and uneven pavement, using either a chair, walker or crutches.
Closure: Discussion about the difficulty in performing the tasks. Students also reflected on the accessibility of our school facilities for a truly disabled person.

Day 3: We have cross curricular reading at our school, so today we read an article from the Team USA Web Site regarding a wheelchair rugby player. Students answered some questions from the article about this athletes motivation and determination. Additional stations were created.

Station 1: The wheelchair station was changed to a 880 oval.
Station 6: Scooter Volleyball.
Station 7: Paddle ball while sitting on the ground.
Station 8: Wheelchair bowling.
Closure: Each day more stations were added or adapted. Students discussed the new challenges, and also the concept of adapting games for different types of disabilities. In their daily journals students were asked to reflect on how their muscles felt from doing activities that they were not used to performed.

Day 5: Our final day we added a few more stations. A rubric was created in the form of a checklist for students to try every station and rate the activity according to difficulty.

Station 9: Wheel chair basketball on adapted lower rims.
Station 10: Blind Jump Rope.
Station 11: Wheelchair Baseball from a batting tee.
Station 12: Passing and catching between 2 wheelchairs (from Playground ball to a 2 lb. medicine ball).

Closure: Students were reminded to complete their journal reflections. We discussed our progress from start to finish. Students offered comments and suggestions on how to improve the unit next year (for example: Selected students would spend an entire day in a wheelchair in order to really experience the challenges). We closed with a video from Special Olympics from the state of Florida and it featured some local athletes that our students know.

Integration: Our art teacher showed students a video on blind and disabled artists. Students experimented with writing their name or drawing with a pencil in their mouth and in their toes. Language arts read short stories about people with disabilities. We arranged for guest speakers from various civic organizations to tell how they help and how they can get students involved. The schools TV crew videotaped the weeks activities and used still photos in a multi-media presentation. Students were interviewed about people they know and how they relate to their handicap.

Culminating Event: We are scheduling a school wide assembly for a wheelchair basketball game between a team of students and facility and a local team of wheelchair athletes.

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Posted on PEC: 5/27/2014 and has received 268 votes.

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Let others know how this idea went when you implemented/tried it with your kids. Include any variations, suggested teaching tips, positive comments, etc. so others can benefit from your tips. Please be helpful and positive with all comments. Look below to see all posted comments.



Previous Comments:

Matt Reiners

let others know how this idea went when you implemented kids in wheel chair walkers please be helpful

micheal argraves

When I had a general ED class I would have love to do this exercise. Being a APE teacher now I see now how valuable this would be.

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