Groups of secondary school students are having a unique opportunity to develop their sports skills through a program run by uni students enrolled in two of Victoria University’s sports degrees.
The Adapted Physical Education Program is a unit in the Bachelor of Sport Coaching and Bachelor of Sport Science – Physical Education (Secondary). VU students enrolled in the unit design activities for a 12-week sports program for school students with varying degrees of intellectual and other disabilities.
School students from 10 local special schools participate in the program, which delivers to around 150 students each week.
In mid-October, students from Warringa Park School in Werribee South and Rosamond Special School in Braybrook undertook the last day of their program. It was a fun and invigorating day of participating in action sports such as shooting basketballs and playing dodgeball, before they finished the day with an activity combining expressive movements to music.
All that remained was a presentation of certificates and ribbons.
The Adapted Physical Education program is designed to develop the VU students’ knowledge and ability to conduct physical education sessions for children with disabilities.
It introduces the uni students to various models of teaching and inclusion, offering them an opportunity to plan, implement and evaluate physical education sessions with small groups of children. Currently, four local schools participate in the program.
Evangeline Au, a teacher at Warringa Park School, said the program was fantastic.
“My students always look forward to coming,” said Ms Au. “They really enjoy it. They learn to develop team skills while not being too competitive, and they learn to play by rules.
“The VU students adjust the program to suit my students’ needs. We have some students with epilepsy, so the VU students adjust the program so there are more breaks during activities.”
Teacher Frankie Brownridge from Rosamond Special School said her pupils learn skills that they can transfer to the schoolyard, and the program gives her ideas to implement back at school.
“Some of my students have challenging behaviours and the VU students are able to adapt their program accordingly,” said Ms Brownridge. “The 1:1 ratio of VU students to my students is a key benefit. The VU students keep my students engaged, they notice what they like and adapt to different disabilities.”
In 2013, the Adapted Physical Education Program won the Business and Community Supporting Disability Award at the Victorian Disability Sector Awards.