April 29, 2020

33 WCU Students Lead Virtual Lessons Tonight to Teach Adapted Physical Education to Community Children with Disabilities

Done remotely by way of their cell phones every Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. via FaceTime or Google Hangouts, 30 WCU students teach and modify physical education on an individual basis for 30 children in the community who have disabilities. Three additional WCU students go “on” with their families between 4 and 6 p.m., as well. The West Chester University students’ efforts are part of a community service-learning portion of a course they are currently taking entitled “Health and Physical Education 206: Adapted Physical Education & Health for Students with Disabilities.” Guided by lesson plans and professional instruction from Professor of Kinesiology Monica Lepore, the 33 WCU students have been engaging their “students” on a one-on-one basis since February in all types of physical activities that have been specifically adapted for those who have disabilities (i.e., basketball, jumping rope, fitness, etc.). With social distancing being practiced throughout the Commonwealth, the WCU students quickly transformed their face-to-face lessons to virtual instruction with much success. Tonight, Wednesday, April 29, will be the last day of the WCU students’ virtual class this spring semester.

“My athlete is currently working on standing on each foot for 15 seconds and tossing/catching a rolled-up pair of socks from one hand to the other,” said Abby Forlino, a Health & Physical Education major who is currently a junior and working with a student in the community who has Cerebral Palsy. “Last week and during our first virtual meeting, my athlete was able to achieve his former goal of shooting a hockey puck to a target for the first time! I love celebrating his victories and coming up with solutions so that he can have more successes.” 

“The athlete I work with on Wednesday nights has Down Syndrome, and participates on the Challenger Baseball team,” shared Halle Lohan, also a Health & Physical Education major who is currently a junior. “I create objectives for him to focus on his batting and throwing skills in order to get him ready for his season. Every week Dr. Lepore gives us a lesson plan to work off. Our nightly sessions consist of working on objectives that we created for the students at the beginning of the semester, and some fitness exercises such as a five-minute run, planks, curl ups, and stretching.”

Through classroom and hands-on teaching experiences, WCU’s HPE 206 class is providing Health & Physical Education Teacher Certification majors with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to meet the needs of students with disabilities in inclusive and sometimes separate health and physical education classes.

The WCU students are getting just as much out of the virtual sessions as their participants. “I really enjoy working with these amazing students on Wednesday nights,” says Lilly Garrell, a Health & Physical Education major who is minoring in Adapted Physical Activity and working with a 20 year-old student who has Intellectual and Developmental Disability. “I have always had an interest in working with students who have any type of disability. When a student learns how to throw, catch, or jump, their reaction is what I love so much about this experience.”

“I am so proud of my students,” says Lepore. “They have worked hard to transform their service-learning activities into enriching virtual experiences for their community students. The members of the class were so nervous about teaching remotely, even though they have been working 75 minutes per week with their students since early February… After their virtual sessions, however, they raved about their experiences and were very proud of themselves. The parents of our community students are thrilled, too!”


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