An adaptive day

Body: 

Eighth-graders at Jamestown Middle School are learning that adaptive sports and games make it possible for everyone to participate.

Chris Mahoney, an assistant professor of teacher education at the University of Jamestown, brought his physical education students to the middle school on Wednesday to teach about assistive sports and games.

"It's about disability awareness and educating people to make them more aware and informed to be better citizens, friends, family members and co-workers," Mahoney said.

A disability can be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory or a combination of them all, he said. The lesson was not to let fear or uncertainty discourage someone from getting to know an individual with disabilities, he said.

"They are people like you with feelings," Mahoney said to the students.

UJ physical education majors Stuart Brandt, Lindi Chadwick, Anthony Cook and Daniel Tomaszewski taught the eighth-graders to play adaptive games as a way to see what someone can do as opposed to what one cannot do, Mahoney said.

The eighth-graders played sit volleyball, where the players remain seated and move by sliding. The net is lowered to adapt the game for players who cannot stand.

At a hearing impairment station one student would coach another in stacking cups as they appeared on a card. The communication was without speaking.

Students at the jump rope station wore blindfolds and jumped when told to by the students swinging the rope. Students also coached blindfolded students through an obstacle course with voice commands.

Eighth-grader Oakley Peterson said it was nice to learn about how the games work. He said it helped him to appreciate games like beep baseball, an adaptive game for the blind that is played by someone he knows.

"It's been really fun," Peterson said. "It's definitely a good experience."

Jennifer Gall, a middle school teacher, said the 100 eighth-graders prepared adaptive games for the annual fall festival Wednesday afternoon at Anne Carlsen Center. The kids designed adaptive bowling, a fish pond, bingo, balloon tennis and even a puppet show, she said.

"I'm excited because our students were able to think about the games that we are playing with the Anne Carlsen students from a different perspective," Gall said. "It's exciting for me for our students to think about others' needs."

Adie Hobert, assistant director of education for Anne Carlsen Center, said the fall festival is a positive experience for students of both schools. The eighth-graders can see the Anne Carlsen Center students participate in the games they created using adaptive designs.

"The kids put a lot of thought into what our kids like and what they are able to do and came up with different ways to present things," Hobert said. "This was a really good opportunity for them to think more about others and how they can give back."

Ryan Harty, middle school principal, said the collaboration with UJ provided a valuable service learning experience for the students and the community. It goes beyond the individualized adaptive instruction in the classroom and with physical education, he said.

"We like to meet students where they are at and help them to become successful," Harty said.