PE clinic pairs students, local kids
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 09:11
In the Shell Building behind the West Virginia University Coliseum every Friday, a group of WVU students help make a difference in 84 lives.
The Friday Clinic Adapted Physical Education Practicum Program connects WVU students majoring in Physical Education Teacher Education with 84 kids from Monongalia County schools with disabilities. The students work with the kids in various activities, focusing on instruction in aquatics, motor skills and fitness skills.
The students with disabilities aren’t the only ones learning. The PETE majors are getting hands-on experience as physical education teachers.
"It’s a practicum for the students who are in the PETE major. Senior year, they take an adaptive PE practicum course, and they’re the main instructors. They write the lesson plans and instruct the students," said Andrea Taliaferro, a professor in the College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. "We also have seven graduate students from CPASS that help supervise along with eighth grade helpers from St. Francis. They’re a cool pyramid of people."
The pyramid of people provides a firm foundation for the students with disabilities. This foundation works hard to encourage physical activity in their students’ lives.
The instructors can be seen running around the gym, guiding or explaining the art of physical activity to their students. The students give the kids a chance to experience something they don’t receive in the classroom.
"These kids don’t get enough interaction with a variety of people. A lot of times, I think their teachers have to focus on cognitive things and their behavior, as well," said Amber Equerme, a CPASS instructor. "This gives them a sense of accomplishment that everyone needs."
Many people involved feel the program contributes to the lives of the disabled students.
"It absolutely helps. They are able to provide something to my students I could never stimulate in the classroom," said Jamie Knotts, educator at South Middle School. "They’re teaching them life skills that will help them for the rest of their life."
The methods the instructors use have proven effective.
"Today, we worked on submerging heads under water in the pool. We set up a mat in the pool, and they were really excited, because they got to slide into the pool," said Nicole Katz, an instructor in the program.
Perhaps this led to the success of one of Knotts’ students. "I’ve got a 6th grader who was scared to death to get in the water, and he’s currently in the eight foot," Knotts said. "The fear is gone because they work so closely with the students."
The program also benefits the student instructors.
"It’s exciting, and it’s very beneficial to learning, because it helps you organize your teachings better, and it keeps you on your toes," said Morgan Martin, an instructor in the program.
Aside from excitement, the student instructors gain experience working with their own students.
"Kids are awesome," said Marc Zeno, a senior instructor. "We learn that all kids are individuals with their own personalities and strengths, and you cannot classify them by just their disability or handicap."
To learn more about the program, visit CPASS at http://cpass.wvu.edu.